First Kisses & Final Requests
VERY ORIGINAL MUSIC + ROMANTIC AND HUMOROUS LYRICS = ROLAND RUBY'S SECOND CD! (Actual liner note excerpts below) So what do you have when you combine Latin-flavored, melodic ballads with a couple high energy rockers in English, sprinkled with three lovely songs sung in French and topped off with a massive choir in Latin (yes, the ancient Roman language) that blends Gospel and a Bachian Mass for good measure? Why, of course, you end up with the formula for the latest Roland Ruby CD. Yes, Roland Ruby and his eponymous band are back and with a vengance! Returning Players are Gates Thomas (Piano/Keyboards, Vocals and Choir Director); Kerry Fernandez (Lead and Background Vocals); Christian Fabian (Bass); Willard Dyson (Drums and Choir Vocals;) Gilad (Percussion) and Roland Ruby (Vocals/Guitars). Also added to the mix are Guest Vocalists Stefan Zabo (Tenor), Theresa Torn (Soprano) and Kitty Twist (Lyrical Coloratura) as well as Violinist Will Heaaniemi. The sum certainly adds up to more than it's parts, and that's saying a lot. Recorded in the summer and Fall of 2007 at the Grammy winning Bennett Studios in Englewood NJ, this follow-up to the dreamy, romantic debut 'Todavia Nos Queremos,' is an ambitious effort that delivers on many levels. Whereas the first CD's main focus was the romance and challenges of long distance love, 'First Kisses' serves up a tasty smorgosborg of emotions and ideas, covering mostly universal themes in five different languages. The CD opens with 'Samba Fatal' which humorously and seductively tells the tale of young, foolish lust with an interracial twist. The sound effects at the intro prior to Gates' pretty grand piano, are open to interpretation, while the English verses are appropriately answered by choruses blending Portuguese with Spanish. 'Prima' (Cousin) is another lively rocker that tackles the theme of taboo romance with Ruby devices used in the debut CD: Male-female back and forth verses with sexy double entendres, lots of Gilad's tasteful percussion and an instrumental jam finale with Roland's electric guitar lead at it's inspired climax. The aptly titled 'Paris 91,' nostalgically looks back at romantic memories of... well, you guessed it, Paris back in the year 1991! The lyrics, all in French, alude to how the city and the world itself have changed since then: 'President Mitterend had different terrorists. The internet and PDA were actually futuristic' (translation from French). The intro of Roland's 'guitar sitar' lead, punctuated by an uncorking champagne bottle and Kerry's short, breathy phrases on verse and chorus, all contribute to the already appealing tune's 'je ne sais quois.' Kerry truly shines in the sultry, jazzy ode to a deceitful lover, 'Mi Querido Engañador' (My Dear Deceiver), which features Christian on upright bass. Kerry's soaring choruses help tell a story of anguish while Roland's barely audible responses add subtle hints of dark humor to the love song. 'Otra Vez' ('One More Time,' like the earlier track 'Prima,' is a danceable number with an engaging male-female dialogue, but this time with a more generic romantic theme and philosphically-minded verses: 'Water and fire are the work of God. What about the laughter and the pain? We need the nightfall to take a break from the sun. Feeling the cold, we start missing the heat. I miss the laughter that together we created. I never asked to take a break from your love.' (Translated from Spanish lyrics) The choruses shout with passionate desperation and sincerity: 'I want to see you once again, kiss you once again, Love you once again, my love. I want to have you once again, until I lose you once again. So you'll forgive me yet again, my love.' (Translated from Spanish lyrics) The finale finds an interesting two sets of creatively rearranged choruses. On 'Regreso al Mar' (I'll Return to the Sea) the listener is treated to what is often expected in a good, modern pop ballad: an appealing melody with romantic lyrics and an electric guitar solo that doesn't go over the top. But 'Regreso' also serves as a prequel to 'Hombre del Mar,' the final track on the earlier CD (Todavia nos Queremos). The 'Hombre del Mar' saga continues from the female perspective on the soothing 'Nuestra Bela' (Our Candle). Willard takes a break from drumming duties and mans the egg shaker, while Roland's vocals are silenced until two tracks later. Violins take a prominent role on this forboding track. Stefan Zabo made his lead vocal debut on 'Le Diable...' (The Devil...) and nailed it on the first take! He also nailed the appropriately eerie affectations on this dark, French song which is the least produced of all the tracks. The lively 'Circulo' (Circle) is perhaps the most positive Ruby tune to date and finds Roland back on lead vocals, singing verses that once again prompt a female response. The bridge is a dizzying yin and yang yo-yo view of the world: 'Life is just a circle of failures and successes, Comedies and tragedies, Blessings and the mothers-in-law, Miracles against science constantly in motion, That's why I get dizzy but at the center of my orbit, is Always you!' (Translated from Spanish lyrics) The chorus teeters on poignant innocence' 'Will you forgive that I might be capable of being mortal Wherever you go you'll find me; just shine your light!' (Translated from Spanish lyrics) 'Durandal a Roncevaux' ('Le Chanson de Roland's' titular hero with his sword at the battle of Roncevaux)takes on an ambitious subject (the thoughts of the dying medieval knight addressing his beloved and symbolic sword on the final battlefield) with universal references to man's mortality and the hope of salvation. Gilad took on the challenge of recreating medieval sword fights. The audience applause dubbed over the sounds of modern artillery add further food for thought. 'Mass for Mankind (Gloria Culpa)' breaks it wide open. Written entirely in Latin, this Mass includes allegorical singing parts. Roland starts out as the Doubter. Kerry and her choir (Gates, Willard and Kerry herself) represent the Believers. Kitty and Theresa serve as the Operatic Angels. To quote Kerry's comment to Roland during the first rehearsal: 'Man, you challenge yourself, let me tell you.' While the music is an entertaining blend of gospel and old world Mass, the lyrics, which will be entirely translated in the CD liner notes, are worth the cost of the CD all by themselves. 'Requiem in Red (Our Candle)' closes out this ambitious CD by offering an English language, rocking version of Nuestra Bela (track 7). As the song (and CD) concludes, the Angels from 'Gloria Culpa,' (the previous track)reemerge for this final climatic ending. 'English-Only' listeners will be pleased that the rolandruby.com website provides translations for the Spanish, French and Latin lyrics as well as four tracks featuring spoken word English voice-overs of 'Gloria Culpa' and the three French tracks, courtesy of guest vocalists Stefan Zabo and Kitty Twist. And finally for the record, Roland and Kerry are just good friends. - Malinka Custode Paris, France January 11, 2008 'Special thanks once again to all the talented and supportive people who made this CD possible. This time, much appreciation to Dae Bennett and the gang at Bennett Studios, especially of course Engineer Al Perotta. This collection is dedicated to you: my love, my torment...and my eternal muse.' Roland Ruby NYC December, 2007.