Urban Contemporary, 1999
I’ve always been a fan of Gabrielle since her wonderful debut single Dreams, but for some reason I didn’t actually buy her next two albums. Well, I did get Rise, and my, it shows that Gabrielle has come a long way. Her vocals still sound as great as ever, and Rise is filled with many wonderful songs that send shivers down my spine. This album is like a journey through a woman’s life and its up and downs all presented in a brand of soul that is uniquely Gabrielle’s.
Gabrielle’s greatest asset is, of course, her multifaceted voice. Husky, sultry, that voice can switch from seductive rasps to maternal warmth easily, and it gives each song its own depth and identity. In Sunshine, she oozes warm and maternal love as she sings a song dedicated to her son. “You are the calm and I am the storm, you are the breeze that carries me on,” she sings, and her emotions are heartfelt and sincere. And in Rise, sampling Bob Dylan’s Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, she sings of overcoming heartbreak. That’s the magic – she sings her songs earnestly and in a heartfelt manner that I am simply drawn into her silent world.
I also adore Should I Stay, a haunting song where she beseeches her lover to stop playing mind games with her. In the chorus, her voice soars like a heartbroken swan – utterly chilling and haunting. And she shows that she can move the house with nifty soulful grooves like 5 o’ Clock and When a Woman, both simply oozing with naughtiness.
But the best track has to be Tell Me What You Dream, which manages to convey hope, melancholy, bliss, and turbulence of the heart all in one song. The song is not only catchy, it is so multilayered in depth that I just have to listen to it again and again to savor the experience.
Rise is like a personal diary exposed to the listener. It has heartbreak, hope, love, and tenderness layered over wonderfully soulful and memorable tunes. Gabrielle adds emotions and gives each song its own identity – there’s not one single track in Rise that is not a gem of its own worth.