In honor of Rico Blanco’s recent birthday, we decided to review his 2015 album, “Dating Gawi,” currently his third full-length, as well as latest album.
Let’s face it: it’s impossible to divorce Rico Blanco—his iconic voice, writing style, and even swagger—from Rivermaya. After all, he’s been part of the band ever since 1993, and had left in 2007, after 14 years of being the band’s frontman, occasional guitarist, and vocalist. He is responsible for hits like “214” and “Awit Ng Kabataan” and his voice eventually became synonymous to the band. So synonymous, in fact, that listening to his latest solo album, I can’t help but be reminded of old Rivermaya songs I loved back in my youth.
One example is the album’s first track, “Parang Wala Na,” which immediately reminded me of “Elesi,” from Rivermaya’s 1997 Atomic Bomb. Another example is “Umuwi Ka Na” which, at some parts, reminded me of both “Sunday Driving” and “Kisapmata.” Overall, the album is vibrant and cheery, and the album name is perhaps alluding to Rico’s desire to go back to a time when everything was happy and carefree.
However, this is not to say that Rico Blanco isn’t original now that he’s a solo artist: instead, this only means to reiterate the fact that Rico, because of the length of his stay in Rivermaya as vocalist and songwriter, has essentially become the voice of the band, and any material he puts out will undoubtedly be connected to Rivermaya, either in terms of the writing, or the sound, simply because we’ve always associated Rico Blanco with Rivermaya. Regardless, both artists have parted ways, and Rico Blanco seems to be set on succeeding as a solo artist. In fact, at this point, I can already tell he’s doing well, having released three successful albums already.
This is perhaps my bias towards Rivermaya talking. After all, I’ve been a fan ever since Bamboo was still the official frontman of the band, and only became less of a fan when Rico had left. Regardless, listening to the entire album still reminds me of some of the Rivermaya songs Rico had lent his voice to, and fills me with nostalgia about the music I listened to in the past. I might just dig up my old CDs to listen to Rivermaya again.
PS. Former bandmate Mark Escueta posted a birthday greeting to Rico Blanco, perhaps implying they should reunite as a band. Or not, we may never know. Happy birthday anyway, Rico!
Rico Blanco’s 2015 album is available to stream on Spotify. Listen to it here:
Have you listened to Rico Blanco’s Dating Gawi? Share your favorite song down in the comments below, or tweet them to me via @rafael_reynante!