As a songwriter for other contemporary pop stars, Ryan Tedder has proven his talent for writing intensely catchy songs that stick in people's heads whether they like it or not. But of course, plenty of people do like it, as evidenced not only by Tedder's success producing songs for such artists as Adele, Leona Lewis, and Maroon 5, but also with his own band, OneRepublic. And as with 2006's Dreaming Out Loud and 2009's Waking Up, OneRepublic's 2013 third studio album, Native, once again gives Tedder a vehicle to turn his hitmaking abilities on himself, and in the process, steal just a little bit of the spotlight away from his more recognizable clients. And why shouldn't he? Tedder has a burnished, resonant singing voice and a passionate, emotive vocal style that's perfectly suited for the uplifting crossover songs he so expertly writes. And that's kind of the dilemma for Tedder and OneRepublic, now three albums out. How do they stand out in a sea of other artists who sound so similar to them, primarily because as a songwriter, Tedder has largely defined much of the entire modern pop sound? In many ways, OneRepublic are a clearing house for mainstream pop sensibilities, and Native is no exception, with songs such as "If I Lose Myself Again," "I Lived," and "Au Revoir" touching upon the soaring, piano-driven alt-rock of Coldplay, the funky, synthetic, blue-eyed-soul of Maroon 5, and the slick yet earnest R&B balladry of any number of modern divas. Which isn't to say that the songs on Native are unremarkable. On the contrary, Tedder reveals a broad palette of stylistic inspiration, and cuts like the roiling, romantic "Light It Up" and atmospheric and yearning "Can't Stop" touch upon the ruminative qualities of indie rock, the falsetto-heavy tones of Prince-style lead vocals, and the wide-eyed drama of '80s Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush. In some ways, Tedder's talent lies in re-appropriating the latest pop trend to fit his own songwriting style. Here, on tracks like "Counting Stars," Tedder has clearly been listening to the British folk-rockers Mumford & Sons and, as evidenced by the percussive operatic of "Feel Again," Florence and the Machine. Of course, with Tedder having possibly worked with any one of the artists mentioned here prior to recording Native, one could argue that he's merely re-appropriating his own sound. Ultimately, all of this might seem like more of a knock against OneRepublic as pop opportunists, if the music weren't so dang catchy.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar