Evonne Rivera is an adult contemporary independent artist who has a couple of advantages working for her: a good clear voice and the ability to write her own material.
Rivera is basically a singer/songwriter who best fits in a lounge singing to its customers late at night. Her vocals create an intimate feeling that draw you in and create closeness. Her songs are well constructed and personal in nature, and as proof of the lyrical confidence, they are printed in the CD packaging.
About the only weakness is in the song variety, but Rivera’s vocals cover for this. “Water & Fire” is a love song that works because of the effortless vocal. The story is brought to life by her and keeps the listener interested in the characters involved. “Scent” is a good follow-up that portrays a person recovering from love gone by. There is some excellent laid-back saxophone that serves as a counterpoint to the vocals.
“Freedom” is another personal song and a little more uptempo, which allows the listener to focus upon Rivera’s vocal strength, while the staccato tempo of “Jaded” is a welcome addition that hearkens back to a 1940s big band sound.
What If contains two good covers. The Dylan song “I Shall Be Released” may by the best vocal on the album. It is extremely different to sing Dylan in any new imaginative way, but Rivera manages it, with a clear and crisp rendition allowing her to reinterpret the standard as a pop song that becomes her own. By comparison, the old Billie Holiday song “Stormy River” is done in a classical style. Nothing real new here, but a good attempt at this old standard.
Along with the sameness to some of the songs is a feeling that there is no one major standout, nothing to make the listener take notice. It’s a solid effort, though, and fans of this genre will enjoy it. Here’s hoping that Rivera’s next outing builds upon this one.