Dreamworks Animation brand new film “Home” has just hit cinemas and is already causing a stir with critics panning it while viewers are disagreeing and loving the quirky storyline and characters. Aside from lending her voice to the main character “Tip”, Rihanna has also created a concept album that explores the storyline further. The album is only 8 tracks long and sees Rihanna featuring three original new songs while Jennifer Lopez, Charli XCX, Kiesza, Jacob Plant and Coffee bring their unique sounds to this unique collection.
While the world is patiently waiting for more details on Rihanna’s highly anticipated “R8” these three new songs are the first taste we have of the possible direction she will move toward. Delivering a glorious and uplifting hook “Towards The Sun” is quite different to what we usually expect from the diva. Her vocals during the hook are gospel-esque and beautifully raw while delivering a powerful message. “Turn your face towards the sun, let the shadows fall behind you. Tell a pray, just carry on, and the shadows will never find you”. The verses are driven by a strong drum beat and synth while she channels her gritty vocals that easily roll off her tongue before launching into a powerful chorus. “As Real As You And Me” channels the pure emotion and energy she delivered in the 2013 smash “Stay”. The piano led song is very similar in structure with a vocally strong delivery that impresses and pulls on the heart strings to win you over. She rounds off the new tracks with the infectiously catchy “Dancing In The Dark” which is the most playful we have heard the singer in recent time. It’s a tad cheesy but it’s cute, fun and you will find yourself bopping along to the gritty verses before throwing your hands in the air for the bubblegum pop hook. It reminds me of her early “Music From The Sun” days mixed with a funky “You Da One” inspired beat. These three new tracks are vocally some of her best tracks yet and shows listeners that her vocal strength is only improving with time. The material has obviously been created for families so the songs aren’t as provocative as R8 will no doubt be.
The other five tracks on the album are all types of “meh”. Jacob Plant’s unoriginal “Drop That” sounds like every club track being played at the moment and seems like an odd choice for a family soundtrack. Kiesza disappoints with the emotionally try hard “Cannonball” while Jennifer Lopez gives us a b-grade ballad called “Feel The Light” which shouldn’t have seen the light. Charli XCX’s “Red Balloon” is cute and fits well with the retro pop sound she’s trying to bring back. It grows on you with each listen and will have the younger listener’s attention straight away with the upbeat chorus but it’s nothing mind-blowing. The only non Rihanna song that got me excited was Coffee’s beat heavy “Run To Me” that sounds like a possible top 10 hit. Its radio ready, club ready and the perfect post summer anthem.
This soundtrack had the perfect amount of fun and emotion that it needed to convey the movies warmth and love. Some of the songs may be questionable but Queen RIRI stole the show with three versatile pop gems that will excite her diehard fans awaiting R8.