Since 2008 Ro has been playing music with not much else but a guitar and voice. His recent release Thrive is a five- song introduction to his music. The songs would have benefited by every other song or so having more instrumentation to create some variation but everyone has to start somewhere. Ro’s biggest asset is unquestionably his voice. He has a smooth, dynamic voice that you could picture singing R&B as well as these melancholy singer/songwriter ballads. The guitar is fine but nothing a first year guitar student couldn’t learn within a couple of days. It mostly is there to showcase his voice, which is perfectly fine.
The recording quality is decent and most likely recorded completely DIY. At times his guitar sounds rickety with not enough body and too much high end. His voice sounds better from an aesthetic perspective although there were some volume issues in which compression could have helped out. The first song entitled “Never Thirst” revolves a couple of basic chord changes and soulful singing. On this album he is singing about both a relationship and his Christian faith. I have to admit some of the lyrics felt interchangeable between topics. I was having a hard time making out some of the lyrics on the first song because his vocals were too low in the mix.
On the next song “Save Me” you could clearly hear his words and it sounds much better. His voice never should be buried and this is a fine example. You can hear the nuances in his voice and he nails it when he goes into falsetto mode.
He leaves a flub and a laugh in before he gets started on “Miracle.” This is another highlight because it features some decent guitar picking and another inspired vocal performance His voice shivers at times in a good way and for brief moments reminded me of the stellar Antony Hegarty. “Thrive” is a decent track but Ro gets into some minor trouble when he shoots for the highest notes. You can tell he is straining a bit too hard from his natural range.
Ro gets back into his range on the closer “Dearest.” He loads reverb and delay on his voice but I felt the delay was too noticeable. It’s arguable but a little less delay would have been better in my opinion. That being said his performance is certainly on point.
Ro is at his best when he stays with a lower octave range and relies on the nuances in the music. His guitar picking fares better than his strumming and really sounds good against a coat of melancholy. Thrive is a solid foundation for Ro and I am pretty convinced his best work lies ahead.
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