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VINE VOICEon November 11, 2006
Ruben Studdard could become one of our great singers ...-could-... but greatness is more than just making a nice sound come out of your mouth: Studdard's recordings don't have the consistency of point of view that comes from the ARTIST -having- a point of view. (Example: A much less technically adept singer, Madonna, for instance, can work with any number of producers, and yet a listener can -hear- that no tune is released until -she- approves it.) Studdard has to stop taking everyone else's word on what works. Sure, you use experts in each field to put the project together, but it's YOUR project. It's time to take charge of your career, this aint "American Idol" anymore. It's not terrible, it just ain't Ruben.
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on October 17, 2006
I have been in love with Ruben since American Idol. I really enjoyed his first two albums, Soulful and I Need An Angel. I pleasantly surprised to see that he was coming out with a new album. I listened to the album on AOL Full CD Listening Party. Then, I purchased the on album on my iTunes, and now, I can not stop listening to it. The Return is an awesome album, and I loved all of the tracks. My favorite songs are Our Story, Blow Ya Mind, and Make Ya Feel Beautiful. Ruben, you did it, again.
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on October 14, 2006
Ruben's voice is very soothing on the ballads and strokes the spirit. He makes you want to get up and dance on the uptempo songs. There were one are two songs that I skipped because I didn't care for them lyrically, but Ruben is bringing it on this album. He has matured and you can hear it in his voice and song interpetations such as Our Story and If Only For One Night. Make You Feel Beautiful and Rather Just Not Know are my favorites. I was very impressed. Very good album....
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on April 1, 2007
EVEN THOUGH HE WAS GIVING THANKS TO GOD IN HIS PREVIOUS ALBUM,WHICH WAS ALL GOOD,HE BROUGHT IT BACK TO WHAT ENDEARED HIM TO WHAT HAS GROWN TO MILLIONS OF FANS. FANTASTIC ALBUM(CD!) CONTINUE TO PUT OUT BEAUTIFUL MUSIC. GOD BLESS AND KEEP YOU. M.L.ROBINSON-PENNSAUKEN,N.J.
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on November 23, 2006
Ruben Studddard has the potential to be one of the best balladers in the game given the right material. With the recent passng of Gerald Levert and the passing of Luther Vandross & Barry White a few years there aren't many ballader's left in the field of R&B. Thankfully The Velvet Teddy Bear retunrs with his sophmore CD and gave me some hope. The first track Change Me had to grow on me, and while a good track it's one of the weaker tracks on the CD. Track 3 Make Ya Beautiful NEEDS TO BE A SINGLE ! Written by Ne-Yo, Make Ya Beautiful is one of the best songs Ruben has ever recorded. Other stonng ballads include Get U Loose,BlowYa Mind and his cover of If Only For One Night.Although there are some very weak moments on the CD,mostly the faster cuts, the ballads are what make the CD work. Ruben is a very stong and capable singer and proved that he deserves a place in R&B.
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on October 14, 2006
Glad to see Ruben step out of the American Idol zone and bring it to us like a man. I listened to the entire CD yesterday on a first listen site, not expecting much, but was pleasantly surprised. Great balance of songs on this disc. From the slow and sultry "Blow Ya Mind" to the up-tempo groove of "What The Business Is," the CD sizzles. Favorites, "Blow Ya Mind," "Our Story" and "I'm Not Happy." Oh yeah, I cringed at the idea of a cover, especially a Luther cover, but was overwhelmed by the awesomeness of "If Only For One Night." Great homage to Mr. Vandross. Huge step-up from "Soulful."
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on October 21, 2006
This CD is my introduction to Ruben. I confess I haven't followed his career nor have I listened to any of his previous CDs. However, I love his sound. It's sultry, sexy, mesmerizing. Ruben's style sort of reminds me of Luther Vandross. This CD is what I'd listen to on a rainy night, cuddled up in front of the fire with someone I love.

The Return (of the Velvet Bear) is catchy. Makes you wanna get on your feet and let your body sway to the music.

Change Me is a slow ballad. Not sure if I like it yet. I can't put my finger on why I don't like it. I don't know. Maybe it's the lyrics.

Make Ya Feel Beautiful is another sultry tune that truly does make you feel sexy as you get up and dance to it.

My favorite track is If Only for One Night. It's beautiful yet sad, haunting yet, um, fulfilling. Really great song to slow dance to.

I'm rating The Return a four out of five stars because I'm not sure if it'd make my top ten list of favorite CDs. I think Ruben has great style, great voice and as he gains more experience and more confidence in himself, he'll get better and better.
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on November 21, 2006
I remember when I'm sorry 2004 came out on his first album. They played it and played it until I got sick of him. One night last summer though on [...] I heard change me and I was hooked again. Though that is not the best song on this new one, Blow Ya Mind is definitely and makes up for all the bad ones. This is a must have for the Christmas gifts when thinking for that special someone and more.
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on November 7, 2006
Let me first start off by saying that I think Ruben is a talented vocalist. And I also think this release is a whole lot better than his first release which received no airplay from me on my car stereo or home stereo. Thats usually how I determine what makes the cut or not. But I think the problem is that as one so called professional reviewer stated that ruben has an old sound which in today's hip hop driven music industry doesn't work too well for most. I must admit that Ruben sounds at his best to me when he is singing a Luther song. Its unfortunate that it seems he may be placed into a box because of how well he did on American Idol. As for this new release, I like it, its not exceptional but its not bad either. Some of the ballads are somewhat middle of the road in terms of audience which I think is a hard thing to cater to nowadays. Noone today is writing music for the luther's and other's of that caliber. And the artist that are around with that sound are around because of that sound, it has established them already from years ago and there is no need to prove so to speak. Ruben on the other hand is a young kat with somewhat of an older sound, which I like by the way. He doesn't oversing the material, but the material may be somewhat on the plain side. Give the music a chance, I did. I think the album is representative of where ruben wants to go with his music but unfortunately like alot of artist (boyzIImen etc) todays music industry isn't catering to that style of music anymore, and the audience doesn't seem to be listening either. But for those who do like Ruben's style, I think you'll be satisfied. Honestly, its unfortunate that many of today's great vocalist end up going "independent" because of the way the music industry has changed. Many of today's great vocalist are on independent labels and I won't be surprised if Ruben ends up there also.
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on February 8, 2007
The 'velvet teddy bear' resurfaced this year after being out of the limelight for awhile. The American Idol winner has shed a massive amount of weight and continues to strive to lose more. But one thing that is certain is that being gone for so long can have a big impact when it comes to a musical career. Ruben Studdard was hoping that his new album The Return would live up to his debut album. But some might be surprised that the album isn't as polished as that shiny bald head of his.

The first single "Change Me" sounds too much like "Sorry 2004" to me. It's still a decent song, but the formula of recreating previous hits just doesn't sit well with fans. Songs like the title track "The Return," "I'm Not Happy," "Get U Loose," and "What Tha Business" are good, but the production and mid-tempo melodies don't complement Ruben's powerful singing ability at all. Some of the better tracks on the album are the seductive "Our Story," the second single "Make Ya Feel Beautiful," and "One Side" (the last two tracks were penned by Ne-Yo). But Ne-Yo missed the mark with "Rather Just Not Know" with objectionable lines like "Tell me another lie/ make me believe it's all in my mind/ tell me you were out with your girls last night/ and that my boys didn't see you with another guy." Other good songs are the self-explanatory "Blow Ya Mind" and the bonus track "If Only For One Night," a cover of the late, great Luther Vandross.

It's almost a blessing in disguise that Ruben's album isn't a knockout hit. He needs to take his time and grow into a respectable artist that people can learn to love and appreciate over time. Even the greats like Luther and Stevie didn't have all 5-star albums throughout their career. So just because this album isn't a classic doesn't mean it's not respectable. The Return does what it's supposed to do...fulfill the void that his fan base has been feeling in his absence and further demonstrate that he's a viable R&B artist who will stand the test of time.
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