A soft gust of percussion and string volley spark the first song in Ricky Comeaux’s If I Ruled the World, “Theme from Kiss of the Spider Woman,” to life, but as we’ll soon discover in the next couple of minutes that the track plays on, instrumental prowess of a surreal strain is but one reason to stay glued to your stereo through the whole of this exciting new album. Comeaux wears his heart on his sleeve in this opening number, and as we sink into the next song, “Tell Me on a Sunday,” his confident (albeit delicate) way with the verses becomes all the more impossible for us to turn away from. There’s nothing forced here; for every melodic facet in this record is carefully positioned as to keep us on the edge of our seats from beginning to end.

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“Hallelujah” sways like a 1950’s rock ballad under the direction of Ricky Comeaux, and though it’s wedged between two of the most prolific songs on the album in “Tell Me on a Sunday” and the powerful “It’s Over,” the charms it has to offer us aren’t overshadowed by the monolithic harmonies of its tracklist neighbors. All of this material was well-chosen, both for the lead vocalist’s needs as well as for aesthetical fluidity, making it all the easier for us to slip from “It’s Over” into “I’ve Gotta Be Me” without ever skipping a beat. If I Ruled the World was recorded in a studio, but I can see it being performed live in this exact order and sounding just as amazing as it does here.

“Not While I’m Around” slows down the pace a bit before clearing out a little space for the rollicking piano of “Carolina In the Morning,” and though the former track is a bit simpler in design, the two songs make perfect peas in a pod in If I Ruled the World. The flowing title track, which feels like an excerpt from a classic Vegas show at times, takes the cake as the most sensuous performance for us to behold on the LP, and the biggest reason why is its treatment of the composition’s distinctive harmony. Comeaux sounds as though he were born to sing this song, and while you might be able to make the same argument about “If,” I can understand why he decided to title the album after this specific track.

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All of the bombast hinted at in the first nine songs on If I Ruled the World comes to a head in “I Don Quixote,” and although this is probably the only ultra-indulgent number on the record, it’s a track that I wouldn’t want removed at all – actually, to a certain extent, it highlights the versatility that Comeaux has better than all of the other songs here combined. Ricky Comeaux brings us across the finish line of this new LP with one final gilded performance in “Since I Fell For You” that lingers with a confident glow long after the disc has stopped spinning, and to me, it produces the best end credits-sequence that If I Ruled the World could have asked for. In short, this is a terrific record from a really talented singer, and for my needs as a listener (and a music journalist), it definitely lives up to its hype.

Garth Thomas