Ariana Grande – Yours Truly: Album Review

September 4, 2013 § 1 Comment

ariana-grande-yours-truly

Ariana Grande is ready to move on from her cutesy Nickelodeon star past and become one of pop music’s young leading ladies, with her debut album Yours Truly. Released on September 3, the album encapsulates some of the best decades in music history (’30’s jazz, ’50s doo-wop and ’90s R&B) and gives it a flirty, modern twist.

Yours Truly has a fairytale-like start, with the opening track “Honeymoon Avenue.” It’s a bold move to open a debut album with a nearly 6-minute ballad, but it works. The tune is classic doo-wop, sticky-sweet, yet bit of a slow start. But it sets the tone for the inescapable lovey-dovey theme of the album. Following is the insanely catchy “Baby I,” which is reminiscent of the best decade of R&B music – the ’90s. The cooing vocals are faintly similar to Mariah Carey, especially once the hummingbird-like notes kick in towards the end. Besides that, it’s one of the strongest tracks on the record. The song is the equivalent of a summer breeze, leaving you with a longing for love.

It’s quite apparent that Ariana Grande is a fan of the ’90s, as seen with her first single “The Way” and the laid-back groove “Right There.” The latter tune copies the same blueprint as “The Way,” complete with a piano sample that is similar to Lil Kim’s 1996 single “Crush On You” and a feature from an of-the-moment rapper – Big Sean. “Tattooed Heart” is a song that’s almost inappropriately best paired with a glass of chilled scotch (Grande is only 20 years old.) The smoky love ballad would fit in perfectly in a 1950s underground nightclub.

Besides MC, Grande has other R&B influences – as seen with the “Rock With You (Awww Baby)” vibes of “Baby I,” as well as “Lovin’ It” – a tune that could’ve easily been a bonus track on Ashanti’s 2002 self-titled debut album. “Daydreamin’,” one of the weaker tracks on the album, sounds too cookie-cutter. The doo-wop/’90s vibe has already been driven into the ground on the record and this tune drives it over the edge – it’s too expected.

“The Way,” featuring Mac Miller is a hip-hop inspired single, which interpolates the piano sample from Big Pun’s 1998 single “Still Not A Player”, has the blueprint to become a pop classic for the modern generation. It’s sweet, fun, and will have people grooving everywhere, from the radio to the dance floor. The most beautiful (and most unexpected) song on Yours Truly is no doubt “Almost Is Never Enough,” a duet featuring The Wanted’s Nathan Sykes that takes a completely different turn from Grande’s Mariah-inspired urban-pop ditties. The simple, piano-driven ballad which shows off both singers powerful vocals is mature, very soulful and downright charming.

What’s a pop record without a EDM-inspired dance track? The album closes out with the bouncy “Better Left Unsaid”, a pumping song that could fit on any international DJ’s club playlist. It’s definitely left-field and misplaced compared to the rest of the record, but everyone needs at least one fun uptempo.

Yours Truly is a solid debut for such a young musician, but she needs to work on her diction. Also, while her voice has a beautiful tone and showcases a naturally classic talent, there’s a lack of personality and quirkiness. At times it sounds a bit weak and too structured, but she may need time to develop a vocal backbone. Over the past few months, Mariah Carey’s name has been paired with Grande – which is both a blessing and a curse. Hopefully on her sophomore effort, Ariana Grande will find her own voice that will set her even further apart from the other pop stars of today.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Songs On Repeat

“Baby I”
“Lovin’ It”
“Almost Is Never Enough”

Songs To Skip

“Daydreamin'”
“Popular Song”

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