If there’s one thing that can be said about 2020, no matter what business or portion of society you’re referring to, it’s that the standard rules we all grew up with simply don’t apply. Ronnue must have been thinking about what this precisely meant when he was dreaming up concepts for his sequel to last year’s Introduction 2 Retro-Funk, and after doing some soul-searching, he came up with an LP in Covers that deserves to be recognized for the unique offering it truly is. I’ve had a lifelong aversion to cover albums as a professional music critic, but with content as solid as this, I was forced to rethink my views recently.
Right off the bat, I noticed a major difference between the style of Ronnue’s music in this release compared to his last record — the basslines. Almost every significant bass part, from those in “Sex Shooter” and “I Can’t Tell You Why” to “What Can I Do For You (ft. Lisa Allen)” and “That’s the Way Love Goes,” has been scaled back from what it would have been in this material’s original form, making for an interesting vocal contrast up top that even the most novice of critical ears will instantly tune into.
Ronnue takes a very controlled approach to the grooves in this record, and while that might sound a little worrisome on paper (particularly if you liked the beat-heavy sound of his breakout album), it actually translates a lot better in the case of songs like “Being With You,” another song with Allen, and “Fire,” my favorite track on the record. There was no reason to splurge on something so minute in these instances; frankly, I think the stripped technique works better for the arrangements as he’s reimagined them for 2020 and the audiences of today.
Though the structure of “I Can’t Tell You Why” and “That’s the Way Love Goes” is somewhat familiar to me as a hardcore music buff, there’s no denying that Ronnue consistently puts his own spin on the compositional layout of every song’s most powerful climax. In the former, he is so careful in how he approaches the chorus that it almost feels like he’s going to retreat before he even gets there — in the end, however, it’s the audience that winds up rewarded for our bearing the tense moment with a rich harmony literally reaching into the heavens above.
I came into my review of Covers with some incredibly high hopes for what Ronnue was going to produce and record in this all-new LP, and I’m happy to report that I was more than pleased with everything I came across. Covers might not be an original offering in the vein of Intro, but it actually feels like just the right kind of workout Ronnue needed to keep sharp in this dreadfully isolated period we’re collectively sharing apart from one another. I’d keep him on my radar as the new year comes rolling into focus, as his camp is constantly toying with new and exciting material serious music fans can’t get enough of.