Monday 3 April 2023

Album Review: Everybody Needs A Little Sunshine - Kymberly Stewart

Kymberly Stewart is a Grammy nominated singer-songwriter, early childhood educator and actress from Los Angeles, California. Her music harnesses messages of positivity through an eclectic range of musical styles, including, jazz, gospel, soul and pop. Clearly a caring soul with a big heart, who uses her innate talent to spread joy everywhere she goes to an ever-increasing audience."Everybody Needs A Little Sunshine" is her second album, following hot on the heels of her wonderful debut "Giggles and Curls". 

The album kicks off with "Everybody Needs A Little Sunshine" a jaunty little song, that features a lively rhythm section, alongside a melodic piano that bounces around restlessly to the lively groove. The song is hugely appealing featuring harmonies which display a noticeable gospel influence, alongside inspirational lyrics, guaranteed to lift your mood on the darkest of days. She achieves this optimism through describing aspects of life that provide colour and inspiration, whether this is the sun coming out, or the welcome arrival of a rainbow, we can all enjoy the visual treats life has to offer.

"Rock and Roll With You" is dominated by a twelve bar groove which clearly takes no prisoners, and really grabs the listener round the throat. Here, Elvis meets the Ronettes, in a mesmerising cacophony of sound where everything is up for grabs. The vocals are clear and sharp, and exploit the musical soundscapes on display in a kind of 'old-fashioned way'. The artists ability to incorporate a sophisticated rhythm, with such scintillating harmonies is some achievement, as the music soars and swoops demanding to be heard. The song has incredible energy; a real foot stomper that will surely have the kids dancing in delight.

"Betty Spaghetti" has something of a big band feel, where the artist describes the culinary tastes of a host of interesting characters. It's interesting that such a sophisticated musical approach, still manages to merge seamlessly with the playful and somewhat comical sentiment of the lyrics. The melody is infectious, providing a vessel for the sweet wine of the harmonies to really shine. The lead vocal is equally impressive as it shoots through the stars; captivating the listener throughout. 

"On the Playground" features a wah-wah guitar, and a wonderful funky groove that for me conjured up images of Starsky and Hutch, James Brown, and the kind of vibe that dominated my senses back in the seventies. At times, there is even a slight disco emphasis on the bass, which assists in transporting the active listener to 'the playground' which is clearly 'my favourite place to be'. The music cleverly utilises the kind of tension and release that generates the excitement of all the fun that lies ahead.

"Little Hip Hop Bunnies" alternates between a gentle ballad where the fictitious bunnies 'are quietly sleeping', to an eighties inspired groove where the bunnies are encouraged to 'wake up', because 'its time to hop around'. Take heed all you music teachers, because this song would be hugely popular in music class, if the children are encouraged to imitate these stop and start moves. A truly novel idea, with a groove that wouldn't sound out of place on a Madonna album. 

"You're Special" is for me the finest track on the album, with its sumptuous vocal delivery, unique melody, and stunning harmonies. The majestic beauty of the piano complements the lead vocal superbly alongside lyrics that reveal amongst other things how the simple art of 'loving each other is the key'. The lyrics then further expand on how we are all unique; how 'there is only one you', and 'we all have a place in this world'. I would also like to pay tribute to the bass player, who does a superb job throughout, moving around the fretboard like restless snakes on a hot tin ladder. 

"Love Makes A Family" is warm and seductive, and expresses the salient point that 'love is what matters to me'. I once more couldn't help feeling a tinge of seventies nostalgia when hearing this song, as it reminded me a little of when I first heard "The Three Degrees" classic 'When Will I See You Again", yes, it really is that good. A sumptuous ride on the soul train, where we may get to meet Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, and Marvin Gaye on the way.

"Clean It Up Up Up" has to be heard to be believed. This song provides a call to action for every parent or teacher out there who requires their room tidying, and achieves this with as sophisticated a groove as you are ever like to hear. Like many of the songs on the album it is great to dance to and has a lightness of feel both intoxicating and charming in turn. I'm not sure if the artist will thank me for this, but the rhythm reminded me a little of "You Can't Hurry Love" by Phil Collins, but this time with renewed energy and vigour. The song finishes with the type of verbal instructions that might refer to a teacher or a parent, either way the point is made with considerable gusto.

"Hey Everybody" is a real foot stomper, with its pulsating bass, funky guitar and hypnotic piano creating the necessary space for the vocals to really shine. The piano sounds like raindrops falling from the sky, as the track glistens and shines throughout and ultimately succeeds in letting 'the goodness flow'. There is so much going on here as the artists lyrical ingenuity encourages the listener to 'shine a little kindness everywhere'. Beautiful.

Last but not least "We All Live Together" features another delightful melody, as it celebrates our 'great big beautiful world'. Whether this is 'the mountains and valleys', or 'the great big seas', we should all learn to appreciate a 'world created for you and me'. I was wondering when I heard this song, if the artist had come across Iggy Pop's "The Passenger," which expresses a similar sentiment, but executed with a rock interpretation. A fabulous way to finish off an album that really pushes the boundaries of what you might expect from a family entertainer. 

Kymberly Stewart is a star waiting to be born, an astonishing talent, who manages captivate her audience with both power and finesse. On this album Diana Ross meets Madonna, and hires Marvin Gaye as a producer. Here scintillating vocals complement a mesmerising rhythm section, assisted by the type of guitar and piano histrionics that wouldn't sound out of place on a Stevie Wonder album.  This musical journey incorporates influences ranging from the fifties to the eighties and everything in between. Hang on to your hearts and hats all you music lovers, because on this form this girl is heading for the top.

Kymberly Stewart - you're special.

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