Hearing Aid: Gibbz ‘Above Water’

You’re young, fashionable, talented, hip and completely full of love. But time after time, you get “friend zoned.” That’s right, you’re ready to take your friendship to the next level, but shorty just wants to keep it platonic. This is the mental picture I got when listening to Above Water, an independent album to be released March 8 by Long Island singer, songwriter and producer Gibbz.

Above Water is an electronic pop/R&B album with some surprise elements of funk and a whole lot of soul. Gibbz is as talented on the turntable as he is on the mic. The album’s lyrics bring you to the bar, on a date and to the bedroom.

The album begins with “Stay for a While,” with an upbeat tempo and a beat comprised of the sounds of a ping pong ball hitting the table. The lyrics are mundane and the vocals have an audible resemblance to that of Ben Gibbard of The Postal Service and Death Cab for Cutie. Throughout the album, Gibbz vocals are reminiscent of various other familiar artists including Michael Jackson and Sam Smith.

The first single “Higher than I’ve ever been” features Dominic Lalli of Big Gigantic on the saxophone towards the end of the track. The abundance of synthesized tones throughout the track is on the cusp of irritating but the chorus is purely delightful. The vocals are impressive, giving the song a fun, flirty vibe. This is a great song to get a party started.

“I Really Love You,” is again upbeat and playful, but in this case the chorus loses me. There are too many sounds happening all at once and what sounds like a guitar comes off as muffled noise. My least favorite track of the album, it also happens to be the second single.

No matter though, “Feel Good” featuring Russ Liquid on the trumpet wins me back. This song is energetic. The rhythm is fast and forces you to clap along. It is arguably the best track on the album.

Gibbz supported Cherub, if only for a month, but this experience is evident when listening to “Too Too Shy.” His high pitched voice reminds me of the Nashville electro-duo. The song is heavy on the synth tones once again, with robotic bass lines.

The album concludes with “How it’s Supposed to Be.” It’s a song of a hopeless romantic. The lyrics encapsulate the vision many of us have of the support between two lovers in it for the long haul. As a heterosexual woman, it’s everything I’d want to hear in a romantic interest.  But coming from a friend, it would sound desperate.

Above Water put me on a roller coaster of relatable emotions from hope, excitement, infatuation, heartbreak and ultimately love. My level of affection for the album parallels this variance. Gibbz has the potential to be a household name. But I wouldn’t want to lead you on, at times it feels like this New York producer attempts to add too many layers. Gibbz, we can be friends, but nothing more.

Key Tracks: Higher than I’ve ever been (featuring Dominic Lalli) Feel Good (featuring Russ Liquid) Too Too Shy, How it’s Supposed to Be