Spotlight People is the debut LP under Cameron Lew’s solo project Ginger Root. Lew, a Huntington Beach native and current film student, molds together a very complete album that ventures through themes of love and wonder. Fans of Jamiroquai, Melody’s Echo Chamber, Ducktails and Vulfpeck will like this one. Ginger Root’s sound is funky, chill and even a bit spacey at times.
Ginger Root bounces between wet, reverberated vocals to lo-fi, megaphone-sounding effects by using a variety of different microphones, including one from the 1950s, according to Lew. The artist complements his voice well on all tracks, as the vocals exude an array of emotions ranging from wonderous nostalgia on the track “Lil Window” to the suave, whispery first verse on “Belleza” where Lew and his friend, Emily Iverson, create the most catchy track on the album through their superb vocal blending.
The instrumentation on Spotlight People is parallel to the diversity of the album as a whole. Lew plays with some entrancing synths on the opening track, “Emulous,” which I imagine playing in the background of a film during a schoolboy’s afternoon daydream. He changes it up on the second track “In My Dreams” in which the Darwin Deez guitar tone could open up an American Pie movie. The drumming on this project is killer. Lew’s friend and fellow Van Stock bandmate Matt Carney does a fantastic job on “In My Dreams” while the artist also invited his Latin music professor, Robert Fernandez, to play the congas on, “Jam_With_Cam.mp3,” which gives the track some bounce.
Spotlight People fittingly plays tribute to discussing an impactful, yet distant, romance in the artist’s life. On, “Emulous,” Lew admits to undergoing change after being involved in some form of relationship that is no longer intact - at least, at the moment it appears so. The reverb-drenched lines, “Some say I would wait dawn till dusk / One day apart is just too much for me,” stand as some of the most impressive and honest lyrics on this album. “You rearranged me,” Lew adds on the same track, suggesting not only an alteration in the artist’s life, but a deeper, more substantial change. A rewiring, if you will.
Lew initially recorded this project as a five-song EP at his home studio, but after realizing he was on a roll, he decided to use this artistic groove to catapult the project into a full LP. He packed his belongings and headed north to his uncle’s house in San Francisco where he set up a DIY studio and gave life to a longtime aspiration of recording outdoors. You can hear some birds in the background of “I Might Just” and it really gives the song some interesting flavor. The “sunny day background” sounds on the track nicely juxtapose the rather dismal lyrics, “I'm just a second thought to you / Just a shadow in your field of view."
“What I was really trying to do was live my fantasy of making music in a far unknown place that's sorta tucked away,” Lew says regarding his trip to San Fran. Ginger Root’s recording circumstances are important to note because the production quality on this album is pretty stellar. All of the recording and mastering was done by Lew himself, but this doesn’t really sound like a DIY project at all.
For a debut album, this is a fun listen. Though Lew plays in a few other OC-based groups, it should be interesting to see what direction the musician moves in with this project. Ginger Root shows promise, while chiller funk seems to be a sound that mainstream artists have been experimenting with nowadays - Childish Gambino’s Awaken, My Love! and Post Malone’s Stoney both received some critical acclaim for their smooth R&B vibes last year. This project certainly has impressive qualities as well, foreshadowing a promising future for the film student from Huntington Beach.
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