Cabrera self-produces sophomore album that shines

Bethany Dionne

After the success of his debut studio album “Take It All Away,” which debuted at No. 8 on the billboard charts its first week, twenty three-year-old Ryan Cabrera was ready to take on a new sound and wanted it done quickly. His sophomore follow-up, “You Stand Watching” was self-produced in just 21 days.

“I didn’t want to spend ten years producing a record,” Cabrera said in an interview with EMI Music Publishing. “I wanted the songs to be themselves, instead of worrying about all this crazy slickster production. I was interested in maintaining the dignity and the hearts of the songs, letting them breathe and become what they are.”

His album sounds similar to his debut, with plenty of guitar driven pop-rock, but Cabrera’s voice is more mature and mellow than in the past. He is emotional and full of soul. Part of the difference in sound is due to the fact that he had strep throat while recording. He found that torturing his throat not only added to his pain, but greatly increased the texture in his music, which is especially noticeable in “Hit Me with Your Light.”

The majority of the songs on the album are different, but still recognizable as Cabrera. Although he was aiming for a new sound, he managed with a few songs, while at the same time, almost sounding like he was trying too hard to be new and fresh. Artists often struggle not to be repetitive and many times have a hard time succeeding, especially with their second release. Cabrera succeeds with a few songs, but his others sound like the same hits we heard last spring.

“Our Story” has a hint of Latin flavor, with the singer/songwriter describing his “Hit Me with Your Light” as “the Cure meets the Gin Blossoms.” The 11 track album concludes with “It’s You,” a beautifully emotional ballad for lovers.

“Each song has its own vibe, serving its own purpose,” Cabrera said in the interview. “I wanted people to hear it and think, ‘Who is this?'”

The first song on the album, “Shine On,” is about a breakup. Some fans have speculated the track was inspired by his ex-girlfriend Ashlee Simpson, but Cabrera has neither confirmed nor denied the rumors. Cabrera sings emotionally about trying to stay friends after a tough break up, and the fact that even though the couple is not together anymore, they are not angry and they wish the best for the other person.

Cabrera succeeded in producing his first self-produced album and said he hopes to produce for other artists in the future.

Give this track a second listen: “Shine On.”

Our rating: Two-and-a-half stars (out of four)