Bobby Oroza ‘Get On The Otherside’ LP/CD (Big Crown) 4/5

Bobby Oroza makes a welcome return with the release of his second solo album, ‘Get on the Otherside’, through his label home of Big Crown Records.

From Helsinki, Finland, singer, songwriter and guitarist, Oroza, initially captivated contemporary soul music audiences following the release of his magnificent debut album, ‘This Love’. His silky smooth vocal was partnered with some of the leading names in Finnish soul music, the production and musical trio garnering acclaim under the banner of Cold Diamond & Mink.

Serving as something of a spin-off or evolved version of The Soul Investigators – a phenomenal band that composed some lavish soul-drenched musical backdrops for vocalists including Myron & E, Bardo Martinez and their most celebrated union with US vocalist Nicole Willis which went on to spawn a trio of modern-day classic recordings. Now comprised of members of The Soul Investigators, the Cold Diamond & Mink musicians and producers Jukka Sarapää (drums), Sami Kantelinen (bass) and Seppo Salmi (guitar) continue to wave the flag for not just Finnish soul music but also for their own label home in Timmion Records delivering their own notable musical unions with artists including Carlton Jumel Smith, Willie West and Jeb Loy Nichols.

As incredible as Cold Diamond & Mink’s productions have proved to date, the undeniable magic of their work with Bobby Oroza may very well shine brightest in their catalogue. ‘This Love’, released as far back as 2019, was spearheaded by some exquisite soul gems that really positioned Oroza as a main event player. Tracks like ‘Alone Again’, ‘Should I Take You Home’ and ‘Falling in Love’ carried the album through to now-devoted listeners delivering some quintessential balladry across the album’s twelve tracks.

However, ‘Get on the Otherside’ is very much an album born of different times. Much has understandably been made about Coronavirus and its subsequent impact on the music industry and specifically on independent musicians due to the lengthy quarantine period. And it’s these hardships that have proved to be the prevalent themes throughout Oroza’s sophomore album release.

The stark contrast in releases and subject matter is introduced early into proceedings via the brief interlude, ‘Bobby’s New Mood’. The track, through its title alone, teases the album’s new direction before segueing into ‘The Otherside’ where Oroza confronts his concerns more unequivocally: “I was dragging along, things I should’ve let go; I spent too long, just trying to hold on”.

While several of the album’s tracks continue to wrestle with these notably darker aspects of life since 2020, the album does end on a positive note by its concluding number, ‘Through These Tears’, which looks ahead to the prospect of brighter days albeit within a world that may take considerably more years before it can return to a normal we all understandably took for granted. Soul music can often prove to be at its most impactful when assuming commentary for socio and political situations so Bobby Oroza’s ‘Get on the Otherside’ is an honest and sincere musical testament to the last couple of years. Hopefully, Oroza’s third album will subsequently be a testament to the more positive period that we’re hoping is to come.

Imran Mirza