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Gabriel Royal

Gabriel Royal releases “Miss Once in a Blue Moon” LP, plays Joe's Pub on 10.26

Gabriel Royal's sophomore album coheres more around its lyrics than did his debut which centered on the artist's fine-grained cello and smooth soul vocals. Both remain here on Miss Once; yet the overall eclecticism of arrangement and rhythm makes this the more adventurous affair of the two. Lines such as “Ain't gotta worry 'bout the facts” (from “Been a Minute”) and “I always seem to get caught up in troubled times” (from “About You”) echo current media slogans—albeit personalized via Royal's inimitable touch. “Battle Hymn of the Lower East Side,” a doo-wop-meets-Gregorian-chant, closes the LP with an anthem of self-empowerment and escapism (e.g. “When I'm focused I can fly”). Memory looms largest on Miss Once, however, as in songs like “Tough Love,” which begins: “She said remember right now/Wanna always feel this way.” “Degoba,” a title taken from the fictional “Star Wars” home of Jedi/sage Yoda, laments the bygone days “when you were mine.” “Been a Minute,” by turn, looks back more fondly (“Running on the streets through my old town”; “Trippin' on some old times”). Musically-speaking, the strongest numbers here are the ones that feel referential of older genres, such as opener “C Major Prelude,” which recalls early Rufus Wainwright and sixties Van Dyke Parks, or the hip-hop/jazz inflected “Indoors” (featuring beatmaster Matt Young at the mixing board). “Notice” is the best example of Royal's ability to take source material and churn it into something entirely his own. It offers a sprightly rhythm of plucked cello triplets and hand-claps, which the artist then sings over, moving from simple chanted lyrics to full-throated crooning. The eighties-esque chorus “All of the things you say I know they are for real” is both transcendent and thoughtful, and exemplifies an album chock-full of melody, quirkiness, and heart. - Brian Chidester

Gabriel Royal will be performing live at Joe's Pub on October 26th.

The Deli's Record of the Month: Gabriel Royal

Regulars of the Bedford L stop in Williamsburg will recognize Royal as the cello-wielding busker whose sweet sound floats wistfully over the cavernous train station. His debut, self titled LP captures the live set's melange of quarter-note triplets and mellow tenor vocals. Opener “G Major Suite” finds Royal crooning manifesto couplets like, “Let's just make one thing this clear.” “Say It's Right” and “Past the Flowers” continue the dulcet pace with aplomb; only “Morning Baby” and “So Glad to See You” depart from the baroque-soul formula, marrying delicate balladry to angst-driven lyrics like “I'm about to lose my mind” and a dropping of the F-bomb. (Brian Chidester)


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