"Spread the Love" with Kris Lawrence
June 10 2013There’s no shortage of love in this long-awaited album from Kris Lawrence. In Spread the Love, his third album and first since signing with GMA Records, the R&B prince finds himself exploring the emotive trappings linked with all things love and gives his own interpretation of it—with, more often than not, insistently impressive results.
Fans of R&B and pop will find much to appreciate on Kris’ 12-track effort. Leading the soul-fueled record is the imploring mid-tempo single “Sabihin Mo Naman”. Layering keys, synths, and beats, it’s a slow burn ballad that builds to memorable infatuation pleads; hardly desperate yet effectively sincere at getting his message across.
As much as Kris knows his strengths, he isn’t afraid to let loose and shape his sound. Throughout the record, Kris works alongside the who’s who of the local music scene to craft songs that cater to both avid fans and new listeners.
Opening track “Nightmare”, despite its foreboding title, is the stuff of friendly R&B dreams carried by shimmering synths and smooth vocals that recall quintessential Usher. Throw in a rap verse from Elmo Magalona in the mix and this fizzy sonic jam about choosing to sleep and dream about the woman she adores.
“Rider” follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, but favors a heavier, war-drums hip-hop base where Kris’ smooth vocals and Q-York’s slick verse slide on the punchy beats.
There are plenty of polished R&B jams and power ballads infused in this record that incorporate Kris’ signature vocal style. The spoken-word opening of “Tell Me” sets the sensual “I Wanna Know” ala Joe attitude prodded by its gently strummed guitar and Kris’ beautiful range, hitting those high notes and falsettos easily. While the classic sounding carrier single “Ikaw Pala” may appeal to lovesick fans, it’s the melancholic piano-led “Di Na Matatanggap” that proves to be one of the highlights. “Dito na magwawakas. Ngayo’y alam ko na ang tunay kong nadarama. Pag-ibig ko sa’yo ay wala na,” he laments, singing a classic case of moving on after the fire between them is gone.
As the album progresses, more attention-grabbing songs are revealed. The Rachelle Ann Go collaboration track “Unbreakable” is a thumping piece of spacey, dance-pop goodness that features K-pop flourishes, a dubstep sample, and club music credibility. Next is the retro soul, blues styling of “Addict” that adds dimension to the record’s overall theme.
The album works best when it’s focused on Kris’ versatile, warm vocals as shown in his duet with Bryan Woodart of IV Example on the piano ballad “I’d Rather Be Alone.” His vibrato stands out in the sea of vocal layerings. “Try Again” is a self-motivational songs that speaks straight to listeners’ hearts, dropping optimistic advice after advice. “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger… get up and try again,” he sings reassuringly, drawing perhaps from personal experience prior to fully realizing this album.
“Make Me Whole” with its symphonic production and restrained vocals shifting from clean notes to heartfelt vibratos that sound like it belongs in a movie soundtrack, and the twinkling jam of “Yesterday” end the album on a positive note.
Kris explores themes about love—lurching into the romantic kind then diving into its pitfalls, lacing up tracks with melodies and musicality that project more ambition. He sings with grit and a sense of purpose to connect with people. On this solid record, he does it more successfully than ever, proving his place right up there with the country’s best.
Kris Lawrence’s Spread the Love is now available in digital format through iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and OPM2GO.