Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Marsha Ambrosius – Cold War

Omar goin’.


Scott Mildenhall: The best thing about this is the unintentionally hilarious video, which chooses to interrupt the song at various points (including the chorus) to tell a story only somewhat connected to the lyrics, with turns from Omar from The Wire, Snoop from The Wire and Marsha Ambrosius from definitely not being an actress ever. That aside, a workaday cut from the love-is-a-battlefield mold, replete with time-honoured nice vocals and nice production. Nice.

Alfred Soto: Negotiating a space between the permafrosted Diplo textures of the verses and the histrionics of the chorus strains her talents, one of which is to imbue pedestrian conceits with life. One album ago she proved a judicious appraiser of her falsetto. Bonus points: Dig her Gwen Guthrie-Janet Jackson poof in the video.

Rebecca A. Gowns: She’s reaching. Reaching for a concept, reaching for notes, reaching for a climax that never comes.

Al Shipley: Marsha’s upper register can be used to great effect in small doses, in certain key moments on songs like “Far Away,” or her solo renditions of “Butterflies.” It even worked better than it had a right to in large doses on “Late Nights & Early Mornings.” But this just makes me wince. 

Anthony Easton: The list that starts around 3:08, just before she goes into the usual sub-diva vocalisms, delivers some real detail. Almost redeems the post-Whitney cliché of it all.

Josh Langhoff: How dedicated is Marsha Ambrosius to the craft of songwriting? She’ll labor through three verses vainly trying to flesh out a metaphor, and all anyone will remember is the opulent chorus with its layered vocals and (synthesized?) horn counterpoint. Dawn Richard might have rescued his best bits, but in terms of structure and boredom, this is the real Peter Gabriel R&B.

Crystal Leww: The war metaphor is melodramatic and lacks of urgency and fight that is necessary to pull it off. She sounds like she’s pushing it a little too much in the high notes in the chorus. I liked this “Cold War” thing better when Janelle Monae did it three years ago. 

Jer Fairall: Chillier and less eventful than Janelle’s “Cold War,” but then again the actual Cold War was something of an uneventful bore itself.

Brad Shoup: Despite the title, “Cold War” continues Ambrosius’ scorched-earth policy. The muted percussion and spare plucks push an unresolved state, but her anguish comes to a head in the second bridge, the metaphors of missiles ceding to some concrete Bernadine-level action. And speaking of those two bridges, I love the scrambled structure. It plays like an expert closing argument: all the rhetorical techniques deployed around a hammered central point.

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: I called it: we officially have an R&B love-as-wartime trend! Over narcotized drums, Ambrosius breaks down a grocery list of war imagery, but the delivery is far too controlled for these feelings to properly reverberate. As talented as Ambrosius is, she feels like she’s reading these words off a sheet rather than buying into the emotion. I prefer my melodrama to be, well, dramatic.

Reader average: [4.33] (3 votes)

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

One Response to “Marsha Ambrosius – Cold War”

  1. Would have blurbed this one, but literally the sole reaction I had to this was that it made me want to hear the Janelle Monae track instead (the first line of the chorus even sounds like it!) and that didn’t seem particularly productive to add, so…