Riley Armstrong made an impact on the Christian pop scene in 2000 with his self-titled debut. Sporting signature blonde dreads and an acoustic guitar, Riley seemed to have a style almost all his own. His smooth inviting vocals floated over electronic drum loops and synths accompanied by his guitars. The boy not only did most of the music but he produced his own debut record as well. With Whatever the Weather, his 2002 sophomore release, Riley ultimately serves up a decent sequel to his amazing debut.
From the opening of the album with the upbeat and sometimes spastic "What I've Found," it's clear the mood is lighter and Armstrong has set out to record an encouraging record with relevant messages set to fun musical backdrops. "Inside Your Promises" immediately relies on its thumping drum beat and Riley's soft whispers reminiscent of something from his debut record. Due to the inviting rhythms and vocals, familiar sounds are all the more welcome on this record. "Unfold" picks the pace back up and Armstrong uses the acoustic-driven "What If" to make a light-hearted look at worry. "Different Is Beautiful" is another signature Riley tune as he encourages people that the differences between people is purposed by God and should be celebrated. "My Girlfriend's Famous" is a fun and comical song that changes things up stylistically for Armstrong. The fun and funky nature of the song, complete with repeat BGV echos, works nicely for Armstrong which he also experiments with on the equally fun and amusing "Step Back." One of the highlights of Whatever the Weather is "The Recipe," a silly track that features a calm and monotone woman's voice reading a recipe for banana bread. A drum beat and silly vocal accompaniment by Armstrong play out transforming an ordinary banana bread recipe into what is bound to become a favorite "song" among fans.
Whatever the Weather is a worthy follow up to an excellent debut project from an artist with a lot to offer. While his debut may have had a couple more solid tracks on it, Whatever... does not come without a lot of fun and tunes that you can play anywhere at anytime.- Review date: 8/18/02, written by John DiBiase
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