Review : Roman Lob – Changes

Young Mr. Lob set many hearts a flutter as he stood on stage and poured out his heart, reeling in votes from left, right and centre with Standing Still. He managed a very respectable eighth position, proving that the Unser Star Für Baku concept still works. But does the rest of his album live up to expectations?

Roman Lob was quick off the mark to release his debut album, entitled Changes. Appearing suspiciously soon after his victory in Germany, you could be quick and forgiven in assuming that this was a mere sales strategy to cash in on timing and media exposure. Or, could it be that the promising young artist actually does have some substance to hime and is not just a pretty face?

Changes consists of 13 tracks, a number unlucky for some but seemingly not for Roman Lob. Changes covers a range of different genres and sounds suprisingly accomplished. The album is given a flying start by the upbeat Call Out The Sun, with a slightly huskier vocal, complete with clapping and jungle sounds in the intro. An infectious feelgood melody accompanied by lyrics of love but not the cliché ridden type make this a must for a single release as it has radio hit written all over it.

With Dream On the positive vibe on the album continues with quite a britpop sound, for me one of the highlights of the album. Another song about love, but again Lob sidesteps the trap that so many fall into. The vocals sound a little shouted in places, but that suits the tempo and style of the song perfectly. A killer hook, this will no doubt have everybody and their granny tapping their feet in time to the song and had me pressing repeat many times. Jangly guitars and a deliciously string laden finish with sound reverb also add to the britpop feel. The next track needs no introduction, as Standing Still made quite an impact at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. A power ballad that slowly builds and becomes a driving force to be reckoned with, the arrangment and style of the song suit Roman perfectly and the piano led finish sets it off a treat.

Things suddenly become a little more mellow, as the tempo slows down on Alone, another strong and well crafted rock-pop balled much in the style of Keane or similar. Swirling piano provides the backdrop here against a subtle, pulsing beat as words are sung about love coming to an end, letting go and his world falling apart following a break up. On track five, Changes, the funk is turned up a notch or two, with a more dancier vibe coming to the fore, with this sounding like the latest offering from Justin Timberlake which would put even the most tired soul in the mood for a good time before heading off to town on a Friday night.

Flying has a delightfully summery, breezy sound to it that once again oozes hit, fast, upbeat and ever so slightly frantic with some brilliant lyrics : "Drinking wine out of paper cups, at least three times I fell in love", Flying is something of a defiant number with an irresistible, hummable tune that the likes of Alphabeat would have given their right arm to have recorded. On Make You Smile, the intro is slightly reminiscent of Alicia Keys meets Maroon 5, unabashed blue eyed soul that is another stand out track on an album jam packed with stronger than average material.

Day By Day is one of the album’s slower numbers, with just the right amounts of poignancy and melancholy, a ballad that sees Roman in a more pensive mood, a sweet ballad that is at the same time a little rough around the edges and which meanders along nicely enough. After Tonight is the next track up, another acoustic ballad that starts off quite slowly, but then takes a surprising turn and picks up pace as it launches into a much quicker chorus, seeing Roman deliver some fine vocals indeed. When I first read the next title track, Something Stupid, my immediate thought was that this could possibly see Roman out on a limb, attempting to cover the Sinatra classic. But I was quickly forced to rethink, with this actually turning out to be a jolly little number, despite trite lyrics in parts. A chorus featuring whistling will no doubt have you singing along. On the whole, a rather sweet love song without being too drippy.

On First Time, vocals become suddenly much darker over a twangy guitar driven melody, complementing the more sombre feel of the track. I would dare to maintain that this was one of the weaker offerings on show here, but that is by no means a bad thing. The penultimate song on the album, Conflicted is one of the more complex tunes for Mr Lob to put down vocals to, another melodic piano and guitar led number which sees him singing both conflicted and addicted in the same coupling. Another strong vocal performance this definitely deserved its place on the album. And so the album draws to a befitting close with Revolution, a lush, mid tempo ballad with a brooding, strummed guitar backing as well as military sounding drums keeping in line with the title. Roman is given vocal backing by an entire choir, building the atmosphere perfectly and bringing the listener an uplifting end to an altogether impressive debut, which begs the question : "What will be his next single?". Well, truth be told, we’re spoilt for choice here, Changes is well worth its money and then some.

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