Volume 18 • Issue 16 | September 09 - 15, 2005

Columbia Records

Off the roller coaster

Vivian Green’s new album is for the lovelorn on their way up

By Winnie McCroy

Heartbreak has always made for great art and in Vivian Green’s self-titled second release, the R&B singer and songwriter rises above the pain of love gone wrong to produce what is certain to be one of the fall’s hottest albums.

Green—who made her name in 2003 with the track “Emotional Rollercoaster,” on “A Love Story,” a debut album firmly rooted in a melancholy jazz sound—has matured her style in the last two years. “Vivian” stands above the fray with 12 edgy pop songs, mostly about coming back from the ashes of disastrous love affairs to become whole again.

Green denies that she is ruled by this kind of heartbreak. “When I was writing my first album,” she says, “there was a lot of sadness going on there, but this one is different. Even the breakup on this record is not sad… this is happy, it’s all good, I’m not on a roller coaster.”

Still it is apparent, even on a first listen, that Green was a victim of fickle love. Her first track, “Wish We Could Go Back,” recalls the salad days of a new love affair. The fantasy quickly ends, however, as heard in the next five tracks that navigate the rocky straits of love.

In “Mad,” a fast pop arrangement, Green sings, “You twist it in your head somehow…. Mad is what you say I make you baby. You ain’t seen mad baby, till you see what you created in me.” The acoustic guitars give this pop song a real rooted feel, and Green’s soulful voice makes it easy to relate when she sings, “It’s me who’s taken all I can take/ I have crossed over from love to hate.”

“Frustrated” follows suit, as Green bemoans the man who hates the woman she’s become. But there is an aspect to this of the phoenix rising from the ashes. It is apt that the album is self-titled, because the songs are very much about Green finding and expressing herself. She sings, “take a look baby, I like who I am, I won’t be changing for you.”

And from the sly drums and scratch intro to the resultant rock sound, “Can’t Say It Enough” sees the intensity and anger on their way. This track, one of the most promising of the bunch, witnesses a love that once existed. But Green breaks it down with, “You know I really loved you baby, but you had to go and ruin everything/ I’m a big girl so say it: We could have been good together.” But rather than move on to the next mistake, Green assures, “I’m happy right now, ain’t got a man, just happy with my damn self.”

In “Selfish,” Green gives the grand kiss-off with no apologies, and a hell of a sweet hook and chorus. “Under My Skin” introduces a strong bass intro that segues into a sweet, simple, and utterly captivating tune. Green sings that she is “so ready for the next phase in my life,” and continues with fantastic vocals about trying to escape a love that is becoming as dangerous and gripping as a drug addiction: “Trying so hard to get under my skin, this is a battle that you won’t win.” The amazing vocal break in this song encapsulates Green’s considerable talents. Knowing that she wrote, sung, and co-produced all the tracks makes it even more impressive.

But the best of the bunch may actually take some time to grow on you. “Gotta Go Gotta Leave (Tired)” features a spoken word intro, a pet peeve of mine. But this slow, rolling track in the sound of early Macy Gray tells a tale of Green packing up and leaving in the middle of the night after love goes sour. Her throaty wails of “it turned into screaming days and solo nights, just wasn’t right/ didn’t really wanna see you, was happy when you were leaving.” Emotion pours through Green’s voice as she sings,
“I gave enough, I’m tired of love, I’ve gotta let it go.”

The combination of Green’s amazing vocal range, inspired arrangements, and hip-hop/pop/ soul sound puts her in the position to sweep the airwaves and become a major star. She may prove to be the next biggest thing since Beyoncé.


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