Bobby Oroza

This Love

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Singer Bobby Oroza fills his debut album, 2019's evocative This Love, with vintage-sounding pop and R&B that sounds like it was recorded at Motown's "Studio A" in 1963. However, rather than bringing to mind the work of a mainstream artist like Marvin Gaye or the Temptations, This Love is more akin to a lost cult classic. A Helsinki native of Finnish and Bolivian descent, Oroza purportedly grew up listening to his grandfather play Latin and Cuban folk songs, and later became enamored of classic R&B, jazz, Nuyorican soul, and vintage pop albums. As a teenager, he also spent time in Cuba studying percussion and singing. While those Latin influences largely remain subtle undercurrents on This Love, he brings many of his soul and R&B influences to bear. This Love was recorded at Finland's Timmion studio with Oroza's own Funk Brothers -- drummer Jukka Sarapää and bassist Sami Kantelinen (aka Cold Diamond & Mink) -- as well as guitarist Seppo Salmi. All three musicians previously worked with the similarly retro-inspired singer Nicole Willis and bring a raw, analog sound to the album. Vocally, Oroza has a laconic delivery and a lilting tenor croon that leans toward Smokey Robinson, albeit without Robinson's warm sonority. However, while there's certainly a layer of indie artifice and wry theatricality at play on This Love, cuts like "Maybe, Maybe, Maybe," "Alone Again," and "Keep on Believing" benefit from Oroza and his collaborators' knack for crafting funky, lo-fi arrangements built around whip-tight drum beats, echo-chamber guitar, and woody bass grooves that have a live, tactile quality. It's sound that fits nicely alongside the similarly inclined work of contemporaries like Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, Nick Waterhouse, and Oroza's Big Crown labelmates Thee Lakesiders. Other tracks, like the infectious "You Love Is So Cold" and the sparkling "Falling in Love," sound like classic Supremes songs being covered by an obscure European pop singer. Ultimately, it's that kind of earnest, quirky charm that makes This Love surprisingly effective.

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