Ever since he was discovered by Pharrell Williams at the tender age of 15, Cris Cab has been going above and beyond with his music career. With his good looks and easy smile, Cab has garnered a fair bit of online attention; as of date, he has 86k Twitter followers and various fan sites dedicated to him. Music-wise, he’s achieved a lot for a 21 year old – both Williams and Wyclef Jean have taken him under their wing, and he’s released three EPs and a mixtape under his name. At last, the time has come for Cab to release his debut full length album – and it’s all reggae, soul and funk, just as you’d expect it.
We don’t really hear much reggae in the mainstream pop industry, so Cab’s music is a bit like a refreshing breeze. Really though – his sound is very tropical and summery, as heard in the albums’ opener, The Sun Is Gonna Rise Again. Cab has a dreamy and cheery voice that appropriately suits this mid-tempo genre. The lyrics are undeniably cheesy though – you can’t help but cringe to lyrics like “sometimes you’re feeling the rain won’t end, the sun will rise again.” Similarly, Fables also follows this chiller, carefree vibe. There’s the standard ‘woah oh oh’ that’s a staple addition to any pop song, and will make you sway for sure. Cab sings passionately here, and he’s a lot warmer and soulful as he oozes positivity: “it’s whatever makes you happy now.” Corny lyrics aside, his voice is quite mature for a 21 year old – it’s developed vocally but he still maintains that playful, boyish tone that the girls will love.
You can also make out a lot of musical influences in this album. From its sneaky snare beats to its strumming guitar chords, Liar Liar has Pharrell Williams written all over it. The track has thick harmonies to accompany Cab, turning it into a suave, sexy number that’s also a bit reminiscent of Michael Jackson. Yet despite all these great things, the track somehow leaves you dry. Cab has something good in his hands but he doesn’t quite develop it – he could’ve fared better with some ad lib, or maybe even a key change. Loves Me Not is another track that’s onto something but kinda misses the mark – the hook is catchy but repeated a few too many times, almost to the point of irritating. We hear a fusion of R&B and reggae in the tracks Ticket and Good Girls. The latter features Big Sean not rapping but singing, his robotic voice quickly becoming mundane as Cab outsings and outshines him by a tenfold.
Cab is to be commended for his vocal technique, however. There is something special about this boy, an earnest passion that shines out whenever he sings. Take Paradise (On Earth), a soulful delivery against those classic off-beat guitars. It’s a bit of a delicate pop song, his voice reminding you of Maroon 5’s Adam Levine. There’s also the sappy love song Goodbye, which sees Cab abandoning his reggae influences and opt for an acoustic number instead. Subtle piano chords and whimsical guitars garner massive vibes of nostalgia, and Cab musters such earnest strength that the track comes off as more genuine than the others. But perhaps the cream of the cake here is The Truth, as he switches between a sweet falsetto and full belt over swaying melodies. He showcases both low and high registers in one track, with a bit of virbrato and a lot of passion. He has a knack for performing with a bit of a Jamaican accent – but hey, that all the more enhances the exotic feel of the album.
Cab stays true to his roots with his debut LP, and it’s paid off quite well. It seems that all the young stars are singing about parties, but here we have an artist with a bit more depth than that. Cab is emotive, happy-go-lucky and at times flirty – and it’s this sort of refreshing sound that makes you curious for bit more.