Gummy is one of those singers that has always had the ability to really break out to major stardom, but chooses a path of somewhat less fame in order to follow her musical heart. She has the vocals to outclass a lot of singers, but she tends not to stick strictly to fluffy pop and does a lot of genre hopping from release to release (and, sometimes, within the same release) that keeps listeners on their toes but also means she’s a little hard to pin down if you have a preferred style of music.
Her latest release, Stroke, is probably the most poppy of all the work that she has put out in recent years, but that is mostly due to the production choices on a few songs and the featured artists. The rest of this sets fairly firmly in the ballad/R&B range with more mid-tempo beats to keep the mood from swinging too wildly from track to track. There are odd production choices that almost serve to overwhelm the singer, but never manage to do it. The worst we can say about them is that some are just not the best for her voice.
The weirdest moment in the entire set for us, though, was when they sampled Janet Jackson’s T.V. (the intro for State Of The World) for Room Service. This song is about Gummy taking a pamper day after ending a relationship and the two themes of don’t go together at all. We realize that this was likely meant for it to seem like she was flipping through channels on the television in the hotel room, but it’s disconcerting and kills the thrust of the rest of the song.
The best part of this set is Gummy’s vocals. They are always a match for the song she’s singing and the energy she brings to even the slowest tracks are enough to keep you listening even if you are just looking for a bop. Her vocal control has always been admirable and she shines from beginning to end. The Cheetah-included Stop Talking might be the only one where she isn’t firmly at the forefront of the track, but that has a lot to do with the fact that Cheetah has almost as much verse time as she does.
We are going to say that this isn’t an album that most people are going to like in its entirety. The style from song to song is too disparate and there is a weird unevenness to the quality of some of the tracks. But there is something here for you if you’re willing to listen through and find it.
Our favorite tracks are Tip For Love, Stop Talking, and Rollin’ With You. The most skippable tracks are I I Yo and Room Service.