Artist: Amber Ojeda
Album: Gemini’s & Virgins
Sounds Like: Paula Abdul, Mariah Carey, Lorde
Technical Grade: 7/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 7/10
Commercial Value: 9/10
Overall Talent Level: 7/10
Songwriting Skills: 7/10
Performance Skills: 7/10
Best Songs: I’m Getting Up, Leave Me Through
Strengths: Well produced, relevant pop/hip-hop album from a decent vocalist and songwriter
Weaknesses: No particular innovation, conforms to orthodox R&B/Pop musical expectations
Amber Ojeda is a singer-songwriter from San Diego, California, whose music has been featured on multiple prominent television networks. Ojeda’s music, which ranges from influences of jazz to R&B, has appeared on shows such as ABC’s “Mistresses” and VH1’s “Love & Hip-Hop”. In addition, Ojeda also starred in Bravo TV’s reality series, “Platinum Hit”. Ojeda has released three full length albums to date, and has worked with respected producers and musicians, such as Michael Feingold. Her most recent full length album, titled “Geminis & Virgins” is the result of a two year collaboration featuring production assistance by Grammy-Award winner Neal H. Pogue. “Geminis & Virgins” was released this summer.
As modern and fresh as “Geminis & Virgins” sounds, there is without a doubt a touch of retro sensibility imbued throughout these ten tracks of breathy, playful, and electrified R&B. Ojeda’s delicate croon on songs like “Leave Me Through” among sparse digitized pop instrumentation and generous amounts of reverb suggests a definitive similarity to recent female artists like Lorde. However, the upbeat, eighties-esq synths and spunky presentation of songs like “I’m Getting Up” sound like they came from a Paula Abdul album. What “Geminis & Virgins” offers is an interesting combination of songs that all seem to be directed toward a very relevant and professional R&B/Hip-Hop sound, but in a somewhat non-linear manner that demonstrates Ojeda as an artist that isn’t limited to very specific methods of songwriting or specific approaches to instrumentation. Basically, the material on “Geminis & Virgins” doesn’t fall into the familiar vice of popular music where every song pretty much sounds exactly the same as the one before and after it. In that respect, the album stands as a significant achievement; Ojeda has succeeded in creating ten tracks that each offer something a little bit different, but still work together to form a current, mainstream R&B sound. The two tracks featuring collaborations on this album “Geminis & Virgins” and “My Baby” along with some of Ojeda’s more intimate songs give the music a hint of Mariah Carey sensibility. Although the album might branch off into several different incantations of R&B, Pop, and Hip-Hop, Ojeda’s voice is solid, the lyrical content is appropriate to the genre, and the production quality is quite professional. No matter what you get on this album, it’s going to be well-conceived, commercially relevant popular music.
While Ojeda’s songs don’t fall into the vice of all sounding the same, and while “Gemini’s & Virgins” is somewhat non-linear in its conception, every song still has an orthodox R&B sensibility, meaning that there really isn’t anything on the album that is going to stray from the typical expectations most people have of mainstream pop. Perhaps the only difference is that instead of getting one sound per artist, Ojeda gives about three or four across “Gemini’s & Virgins”. The music is dynamic speaking from a singular, artist-level standpoint. However, as different as each song might be, the ten songs are still pretty typical mainstream R&B/Pop/Hip-Hop that conforms to a very rigid set of expectations. While “Gemini’s and Virgins” might be more eclectic in its influences, it still struggles with demonstrating it’s uniqueness.
From a musician and songwriter’s perspective, “Gemini’s & Virgins” is a commendable effort; Ojeda is a good singer, the lyrical content works well, and the variation between tracks demonstrates the fact that Ojeda’s work is somewhat more eclectic and dynamic than other R&B/Hip-Hop artists. However, for all the variation this album has as its own work, it still isn’t anything that deviates or stands out significantly in terms of a mainstream market.