Gappy Ranks' Put the Stereo On coverGappy Ranks, Put the Stereo On [VP Records, 2010]

Standing out most in Ranks’ debut album is an original blend of contemporary and classic sound. It combines instrumentals reminiscent of the Studio One era, as on “Happiest Day Of My Life” and “Pumpkin Belly” (remake of the Tenor Saw original), with the modern versatility of Ranks’ vocal style—flowing naturally over beats with an array of thoughtful lyrics on love (“Heaven In Her Eyes”), childhood memories (“Put The Stereo On”), and universal respect (“Thy Shall Love”).

Ranks himself has a rich, well-defined voice. But unfortunately it is often overshadowed by the album’s overuse of auto-tune. This is disappointing for the nostalgic listener wanting to hear the sonic essence of Studio One preserved where Ranks voices over instrumentals that recall the era—one characterized by natural, only slightly-modified (e.g. reverbed) vocals.

Still, the album is catchy; it has a seductive groove. Yet, there are tracks like “Pumpkin Belly” that are not mixed well. You can hear the vocals are much too bright and crisp for the low-definition, analogue-washed sound of the accompanying instrumentals. Though permissible for a mixtape or promo CD, it takes away from the professional quality of Ranks’ LP. Regardless, his rhythmic and melodious talent remains apparent throughout the album, evinced too by notable singles like “Longtime” (a bitter-sweet nostalgic gem) and “Stinkin Rich” (dancehall banger), which did not make their way onto it. Whatever stereo you put him on, expect to hear more good music from the promising singjay in the future.

Purchase this CD here.