Quiet Nights by Chris Ruggiero – Album Review

Quiet Nights by Chris Ruggiero – Album Review

Chris Ruggiero is a 22-year-old young singer with an old soul; he gained fame in the music industry by breathing new life into vintage rock and roll of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. No matter where the music industry goes, the era of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s remain timeless. And that’s what Chris does! He breathes new life into this timeless music to keep it alive for the new generation. When Chris was asked what appealed to him the most about the old songs, he said it was how meaningful the lyrics are and the beauty of the melodies.

Chris paved his way into the music industry when he performed on a nationally-televised PBS-TV broadcast special. Since then, Chris has been seen making waves around the country as he travels and performs in different cities. His unique approach to old-school rock and roll has led him to sold-out shows in Las Vegas, Florida, New York, and Cleveland.

In 2021, Chris surprised his fans by releasing three albums and an EP that included I Am Chris Ruggiero, on which he collaborated with legendary arranger Charlie Calello. Calello has over 100 national hit records as an arranger and producer. Chris expresses his admiration for Charlie as he says, “Charlie is the epitome of musical genius.” But after this album, it seems the admiration is now mutual as Calello said, “It’s been a long time since I heard a voice like this. Chris doesn’t chase the music. He brings the music to him and he does it without vocal tricks. That’s rare today.”

Now let’s talk about Chris’s latest album, Quiet Nights, which features his mesmerizing vocals accompanied by masterful pianist and arranger Christian Tamburr.  Quiet Nights contains ten singles, each of which is unique in its own way. Chris’s refreshing vocals make you want to sing along with him and the beautiful piano riffs transport you while offering a fresh rhythmic approach.

The first single of the album, “Up on the Roof,” takes the New York classic to a different place entirely. The song, in the Ruggiero / Tamburr re-telling, seems to have a sense of awe and wonder not previously heard in the prior recording. Chris sings his invitation to join him where – the stars put on a show for free – in a way that makes you want to jump up and go. This invitational melody was a great choice to open the album.

The second single, “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” starts with Christian Tamburr’s mellow piano, which gave me all the romantic feels. There’s nothing about his playing or Ruggiero’s singing that would reveal this song was written 90 years ago. It sounds as fresh as anything coming out of a contemporary Broadway musical, as Chris starts to sing in his soothing voice, “Stars shining bright above you, night breezes seem to whisper I love you.” His vocal uplifts your whole mood and at the same time, makes you long for anyone whose company you might be missing.

“The Long and Winding Road,” is the third single, perfect for anyone who loves Lennon-McCartney classics, but especially for those who enjoy soothing music that is also full of raw emotion. It’s the best single for a road trip playlist or when you are on your way to meet your boyfriend or girlfriend. He manages to make the song his own through vocal riffs unheard before while keeping the spirit of the song intact. As on previous cuts, Christian Tamburr’s piano interlude ties together the shifting moods of the song’s verses.

On the fourth single, “When Sunny Gets Blue,” Chris and Christian tackle another classic that would be no stranger to the fans of the Great American Songbook. Chris sings the classic melody in a way that is fresh and new, even though you may have heard one or more of the hundreds of versions previously recorded.

“It’s Not for Me to Say” is the fifth single of the album and it is presented in a medley with “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” This interesting mash-up turns a wistful classic into a heartbreak song that Chris delivers with all of the emotion that will seem very relatable to anyone who has gone through it. This is a perfect song for lonely nights.

A beautiful Brazilian love song, “Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars),” is the sixth single of the album and it’s ideal for cozy date nights. Chris manages to put his personal stamp on the Jobim classic while maintaining the integrity of the lyrics and melody. Here, he delivers the album’s title track with a sensibility that belies his age.

Chris completely changes the vibe of the next 2 songs, “Fly Me to the Moon,” which gets a unique torch-song ballad treatment, and “My Girl,” which has its Motown groove stripped away in favor of a jazzy bop that’s instantly loveable. Christian’s energetic piano is quite different here from the rest of the singles and it molds this R&B classic into a perfect fit for any cabaret room or supper club.

The album also consists of a popular 70s song, “Vincent,” originally written and sung by Don McLean. Chris didn’t disappoint in his rendition of this classic, either. The reharmonizations here feature minor chords in the first half, before resolving to major iterations in the latter verses. The whole song, and especially Chris’s vocal, provides an innovative and intimate telling of this haunting story.

The last single of the album, “Angel,” is the outlier of the batch. Having been penned a mere 2 years ago, it still somehow fits snugly alongside the other more time-tested melodies. It is tender and bursting with emotion. Chris’s voice gives you shivers down the spine as he sings, “You’re an Angel in disguise. You’re an Angel in my eyes.” The harmonies at the end are lush, gorgeous, and extremely effective to close out the album.

Though it’s tough to choose one out of all the amazing singles of this album, my favorite has to be “When Sunny Gets Blue,”. Chris’s rendition of the song gives Disney Princess vibes that fuse well in the romantic modern classic aroma. Overall, Quiet Nights is a trip through a variety of musical colors and lyrical adventures – and most definitely a trip worth taking.