Having prodded and poked Trump’s America through the lens of his own Mexican/American heritage in We’re Not Going Anywhere, David Ramirez delves into deeply personal territory, examining the many shades and rocky surfaces of an intense but short- lived love affair.
Lover, Will You Lead Me? stumbles out of the gate as one of the weakest tracks on the album, as Ramirez’ apparent attempts at “laid-back steamy lounge music” fall just on the wrong side of the “island-set softcore porn soundtrack” territorial divide. Ramirez’ use of a tropical-sounding piano flourish unfortunately sounds more like an advert for the travel channel rather than the fifth album of a seasoned singer-songwriter. Similarly, Hell features a guest spot from Sir Woman that attempts a brief foray into the effortless cool of smooth, cosmopolitan jazz but comes across as trite and overindulgent.
I Wanna Live In Your Bedroom gets things back on track, however, channelling the anguished rumble of Eddie Vedder and proving to be one of the stand-out tracks on the album. The gentle, fingerpicked guitar, muted backing vocals and Ramirez’ own impressively flexible voice imbue his evocative, well-observed lyrics with an almost spiritual reverence. Fans of Ramirez will instantly feel at home during songs like Coast to Coast, Heaven and Easy Does It – relatively straightforward slices of rootsy, smoky folk rock punctuated by the occasional moment of instrumental inspiration.
While the arrangements are relatively stripped back compared to his previous album, title track My Love Is A Hurricane branches out in several promising new directions; gospel-inspired chorus vocals, a reverb-soaked, bottom-heavy gothic blues beat and a repeating piano trill that’s eerily reminiscent of early 90s hip-hop. These are repeating elements throughout the album, and for the most part lend the earthy, warm production values a much needed shot of energy and imagination.
Minor missteps aside, this innovative blending of blues, railroad folk storytelling and R&B grooves lends the album a rich, varied tonal palette that jives effortlessly with Ramirez’ previous work but also takes it in subtly inventive new directions.