Ricky Comeaux first made his mark in the music world during the 1980’s and 1990’s with creative partner Jerry Atwood as one half of the Houston based vocal duo Atwood and Comeaux but has reemerged as a solo artist two decades since they broke up their long-standing collaboration. His first solo album release If I Ruled the World features eleven songs drawn from Broadway and film, pop, and classic rock transformed by his signature tenor and intelligent creative revamping of their respective arrangements. Founder of Musicomm and longtime television/film composer Mark Holden oversaw the album’s production from his Los Angeles studio while Comeaux stayed close to his roots laying his vocals down at Houston’s Wire Road studios with producer Barry Coffing. It has taken Comeaux years to release his first solo effort for a variety of reasons, but the wait is well worth it.
“Theme from Kiss of the Spider Woman” exhibits many of the five-star production values making this collection such an enjoyable listening experience. Much of Comeaux’s target audience will enjoy the understated Latin flavor driving the track, particularly the tasteful percussion, but the quality standing out the most is Comeaux’s singing. He boasts evocative phrasing capable of drawing all but the most cynical of listeners into his musical web and understands how to play into the song’s dynamics.
Ricky Comeaux sings the classic “”Theme From Kiss of the Spider Woman” with on-screen lyrics to follow along.
His unerring instincts in this area continue with his cover of Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s “Tell Me on a Sunday”. The elegant piano playing invokes genuine musical poetry and Comeaux plays his voice off quite well in juxtaposition with the instrument’s melodic lines. It rises and falls in dramatic fashion, particularly near the end, and Comeaux’s voice works quite well within in this musical setting. His version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, now perhaps the most popular work in Cohen’s towering catalog of tunes, stakes out his own territory as an interpreter of this now standard and he essays Cohen’s deeply personal lyric as if he penned the song himself.
Sammy Davis Jr. would have never imagined his classic “I’ve Gotta Be Me” in the way Comeaux re-envisions it here with terse percussion accompaniment and rock guitar, but Comeaux recasts the song with great success and it ends up striking the same rousing note present in the original. It is a brief performance but nonetheless takes an interesting turn a little before its halfway point when the rock pose falls away and the track veers much closer to Davis Jr’s conception of the track.
The title track unrolls in languid fashion akin to its original popular version from Tony Bennett, but Comeaux wisely opts for never aping Bennett’s vocal mannerisms in any meaningful way. Its orchestral qualities are never schmaltzy. It is, naturally for a title track, one of the stronger vocal performances included on the release. First popularized by Lenny Welch and later successfully covered by Al Jarreau, the closer “Since I Fell For You” is one of the album’s longer performances and opens with string flourish before segueing into a keyboard/vocal duet dominating much of the track. Comeaux’s voice reaches impressive heights with this concluding song that makes it a more than appropriate final curtain. There’s accessibility and sophisticated style defining this album in equal measure. If I Ruled the World is a memorable return in every way for Ricky Comeaux.