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The first section of the album is very upbeat. Prince's early music often served as a manifesto for disenfranchised young people to reclaim the world as their own and make it a better place, and the first several songs find Sparro following in his footsteps. "We, the people of Paradise/We can no longer hide in the night/We must bring these secrets we've learned/into the light," Sparro sings earnestly over slinky synths. The following two tracks, "Happiness" and "Let the Love In" are equally optimistic, followed by "Yellow Orange Rays," a socially conscious song that is so reminiscent of "Sign O' the Times" that I'm seriously concerned that Prince will sue for plagiarism.
The album's finest moment comes with "I Wish I Never Met You," when Sparro stops trying to change the world and laments a romance gone so wrong that he wishes he could forget the whole thing. He follows with "Shades of Grey," which finds him following in Prince's footsteps yet again by exploring his falsetto in a heartbroken ballad. Sparro spends the next few tracks creating a vintage disco inferno, and I'm pretty sure "Closer" actually samples the Charlie's Angels theme song, which is pretty awesome. The album closes with "Return to Paradise," which sounds like it could be a b-side to "Purple Rain."
Despite the album being a blatant homage, Sparro somehow manages to make it work, and even, to some extent, make the sound his own. None of the tracks come close to re-creating the pop perfection of his best song, "Black and Gold," but I think I can safely say he's avoided the sophomore slump with "Return to Paradise."
"Yellow Orange Rays" is choppy mid tempo Funk/Pop that apes Prince. Other highlights are "I Wish I Never Met You" (with shimmery swirling effects), the falsetto-sung Bee Gees-channeling synth ballad "Shades Of Grey", the groovy string/horn-peppered "We Could Fly", the rousing "The Shallow End" (with party sounds), and the closing moody synth ballad "Return To Paradise.
There may not be another "Black And Gold" on here, but this is a consistent and good follow up that will have you returning for more.
Singer/songwriter/producer Sam Sparro has truly outdone himself with his second album. While his self-titled debut was a bit all over the place, Return to Paradise has solidarity due to each song's united front on the quest for love and happiness. With the album being well focused sonically, fluidity is present; there will be no skipping around on this masterpiece, no sir! Return to Paradise will have you feeling like you're in a relationship-- leaving you smiling, heartbroken, and empowered all within 47 minutes. Sounds stressful...? Nah!! It's healing to you mind, soul, and most important of all, your ears. IT'S PARADISE (duh)!!!
Return to Paradise begins with the anthem "Paradise People" declaring, "We are the Paradise people/ We are the moon and the stars/ We are the church and the steeple/ Sent down from Venus and Mars". This is the perfect song to set the tone of the album with its smooth funk beat and equally smooth yet hard hitting vocals. The following tracks are "Happiness" (the first single) and "Let the Love In". The latter is where Sam encourages people "live in the light" and reciprocate love; with the former, being another anthemic song, shows his urgency of trying to find, none other than...happiness. Something we all could use more of.
Towards the second half of the disc the Australian born soul singer reminds his listeners why we enjoy listening to him croon in the first place. The second single, "I Wish I Never Met You", is a breakup dance ballad (one of which hits too close to home *sniff sniff sigh*). Sam sings with such conviction that it'll make you want to call your ex-partner and damn him/her to hell (if nothing else, at least throw a pillow at the stereo)!Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Amazing album! Such a fresh sound! Combining funk and soul with disco yet still having the ballad sound. I love this album!Published on September 7, 2013 by L. De Vera
OK... I admit I have ragged on Sparro in the past but I have to admit that I think he is really finding his inner soul with this album. Read morePublished on June 23, 2013 by EnergyBeing11:11
I found out about Sam Sparrow a little bit ago; Adam Lambert tweeted about his new album, said it really good, so I gave it a listen. Read morePublished on January 13, 2013 by David Sherbondy