CD REVIEW: Laura Roppe - I'm Still Here
By: Cyrus Rhodes
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: R&B, Pop, Country
Sounds Like: Shania Twain, Wynonna Judd
Technical Grade: 10/10
Weakness Eccentric songwriting & over the top vocal performances
San Diego Singer/Songwriter Laura Roppe releases her latest album entitled “I’m still Here” in 2010. The CD was produced by Mathew Embree who is a member of Ex Bandits. What's truly remarkable is that Laura wrote all the songs immediately following rigorous chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer in 2009.
The CD quickly takes flight with “Bail Yourself Out” an upbeat intro groove that serves up hooky vocal groove against driving rock rhythm & well placed vocal harmonies from Roppe & company. Track 2 “Heart Inside your Palm” keeps thing moving in the smooth direction with its steady flowing rhythm, smooth melodic accents & dynamic vocals & lyrical content from Roppe. Track 3 “Little Stick of Dynamite” dishes out jumping melody, well placed percussive accents against more high energy vocals from Roppe. The production quality is world class & the musicianship of everyone involved is above the bar. Along the way you will notice lush instrumentation with things like Hammond organ & keyboard accents, strings, Cello, percussive accents, slamming guitar chops & solos & lush harmonies layered everywhere. The rhythm section pushes the natural accents well. What I like the most about this band is how well they seem to groove together, testament to hundreds of hours of rehearsal time no doubt. Now turning our attention over to Roppe - as for her vocal abilities it works well within the confines of this rather dynamic & eccentric catalogue. Her falsetto is impressive & her vibrato is to die for. I suspect some of her vocal influences are – Shania Twain, Wynona Judd, Indigo Girls just to name a few. This CD from Roppe delivers 13 compelling tracks all providing an interesting snapshot & thought provoking wisdom with messages that are uplifting & positive. From rocking “Wage Peace” to slow moving “Woopie” to slamming “Making a Living” & “I’m so Sorry” to powerful “She’s Gonna Change the World” & “Butterfly Girl” this CD pretty much has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with the title track, the perfect finale statement for a catalogue like this.
It’s fair to say some of the songwriting, vocal performances, & lyrical content is a bit quirky, over the top & eccentric. A mass audience may have trouble identifying with it. Track 2 “Heart Inside your Palm” & Track 8 “George Clooney” are a bit over the top for me & get under my skin. Some songs are definitely better than others. Although Roppe has an impressive voice, some of the vocal performances come across as sounding a bit nasally. For the record my 8 star rating is hanging on by a thread.
From start to finish “I’m Still Here” is an impressive collection of music from Laura Roppe. The music is highly passionate, uplifting, & extremely entertaining. The songwriting – an interesting snapshot of a powerful period in Roppes’ life. All songs are consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair, & signature groove. Note for note, song for song this catalogue is rock solid & extremely consistent. The writing & playing abilities of Laura Roppe’s band are rock solid, the melodies & harmonies are well crafted, & the lyrical content is packed to the hilt with conventional wisdom & overfloweth with information. Thank you Laura Roppe for sharing this compelling catalogue of music with the world. Like the human spirit it's much too powerful to fade away.