Today’s vibe is one I didn’t even plan on checking out until I needed a break from trying new Hip-hop out. Ronald Bruner Jr. is son of legendary drummer Ronald Bruner Sr. (Temptations, Diana Ross, Gladys Knight) and brother of bassist Thundercat, and keyboardist Jameel Bruner (formerly of the Internet). Yeah, the family is THAT talented.
Most modern music listeners would have heard of Thundercat from his collaborations with Kendrick Lamar on To Pimp A Butterfly or his three stellar and musically complex albums, The Golden Age of the Apocalypse, Apocalypse, and his most recent work, Drunk. Ronald comes correct with his first full body of work with the entire family and more in tow with Thundercat, Jameel Bruner, Kamasi Washington, George Duke, and Mac Miller.
The first song, True Story is very inspirational sounding and madly in love. In fact, the whole album sounds like love in the spring. Take the Time ft. Thundercat starts super drum heavy but the soft vocals contrast nicely against it finding a nice warm pocket. She’ll Never change gives me Stevie Wonder vibes and pure sunshine. Think a dedication song like Lovely but not quite. Geome Deome is a George Duke (Rest in Peace) and Ronald going back and with a 8-minute jam sessions. It’s amazing because you can tell that this was a drummer’s composition, the drums show dexterity and complexity while not being overbearing.
Whenever is one of my favorite tracks on the album with vocal performance on the chorus reminiscent of Pharrell Williams. This song gives me everything that I want from a lighthearted album with 80s vibes. The musicality is great and I can easily be on a roller rink or something like that. Doesn’t Matter takes a slight Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall influence and brings it front and center.
Open the Gate is a beautiful song that I would play at a barbecue near the end of the night, once the kids are getting sent in the house and a good game of dominos or spades is starting. It’s that chill and amazing. This live would completely be an experience to see. Especially the keyboard acrobatics towards the halfway point. This is close your eyes and imagine a live band music.
One Night is the seduction song. He promises to entice the woman of his dreams to give him at least “one night” to prove his devotion to her. It’s a dynamic song that would make Teddy Pendergrass proud. Sensation ft. Mac Miller & Danielle Withers is just a feel good jazz vibe.
To You/For You is another 80s fusion song that really kept me in the mood. The only misstep on the album to me was For You. To You was truly enjoyable as it took inspiration from Prince then switched to a sultry ode… then For You happened. For you comes in at the end of the last two minutes with heavy rapping that sounds like he snatched it from an E-40 album. It’s not bad, but it is completely out-of-place. After nearly an hour of love, romance, and singing, the stereotypical club, women, and gun talk seems lost. Yet, he finishes off the album strong with the last song being a moving display of musicality called Chick’s Web.
Triumph is an amazing body of work as a solidifying tribute to years of experience and exposure working with master musicians like Stanley Clarke, Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, Wayne Shorter, Prince, Chaka Khan, Q-Tip, Kenny Garrett and Stevie Wonder. It clearly shows his inspiration while still seeming like him. Nothing seemed forced except of For You and even that I can forgive or edit out. For his first full body of work, I plan to keep it in my rotation for some time to come.
Turn your brightness up Ronald!!
Would you all like me to venture into some more alternative or adult music? Any recommendations on albums you’d like me to cover? Any surprise pleasures of 2017? Let me know in the comments below.