Review by Shannon Shumaker
Joshua Michael Robinson, better known as JMR’s new EP, Ritual is nothing short of stunning. From the very first haunting notes of “To Be Alone With You,” which sound somewhat reminiscent of Daft Punk’s TRON: Legacy soundtrack, to the poppy, upbeat ending of “Bad For Good,” JMR hits every single mark on Ritual, leaving you feeling both fulfilled and completely blown away.
“To Be Alone With You” is the beautiful, smooth and groovy opening track, backed by rolling electronic beats and soulful, soft and sometimes soaring vocals. The opening track is rather mellow at times, but still very captivating. It makes you want to bob your head, but also feels like a sensual love song at the same time. The instrumentals are remarkable, but even more so are the vocals, which really shine when you least expect it. Right at about the three minute mark, high falsetto vocals come in and shine over everything else, and then just like that, it’s quiet and smooth again.
Similar to “To Be Alone With You” is “Closer,” with very crisp and clear vocals. However, unlike the polished sound on “To Be Alone With You,” the lyrics and vocals take on a much more raw feeling in this track. Another love song, “Closer” is carried by thumping bass and drums and sweet vocals as Robinson croons, “I just want you closer.” Much like the opening track, “Closer” is very soulful, and by the time the song comes to an end, I can’t decide if I want to bob my head along, or lounge in bed all day letting JMR sing me to sleep. (And I mean that in the best way possible.)
“Shivers” is yet another slow jam, but sounds nothing like “Closer.” Where the first two songs feel more electronica influenced, “Shivers” is very R&B influenced, sounding similar to Sam Smith at times. “Found My Religion” is slow, like the other songs on the EP, but unlike them, this track is carried heavily by flawless vocal harmonies and lower vocal parts, rather than the soaring falsettos. The ease in which the lines are delivered in this track is remarkable, as well.
Then, bringing things to a close is “Bad For Good,” the most upbeat and poppy song on the EP. The final track will catch you off guard, but it suits the Ritual well, making you long for more before end. While there isn’t necessarily a big, explosive moment on the EP, there doesn’t need to be one. JMR’s thumping bass, captivating instrumentals and absolutely stunning vocal work is enough to keep your attention. There is no need for theatricality or anything over the top - these smooth, sensual songs are flawless.
Listen to "To Be Alone With You"
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