Ronnue made big waves in 2019 – arguably some of the biggest of anyone in his scene – but if you thought he was going to spend 2020 basking in the glow of the positive press he got last year, you’d better think again. “That’s the Way Love Goes,” a cover of the iconic Janet Jackson song, is his latest release and an incredible demonstration of where he’s at artistically in 2020. There are a lot of players worth keeping track of in the American underground at the moment, but Ronnue is one of the only artists I’ve reviewed in recent times showing the sort of consistent growth required to make it in the primetime.
“That’s the Way Love Goes” features an absence of bottom-end tonality almost to the point of feeling a little bit frustrating in a couple of key moments here and there, but to some degree I think this was necessary to give the vocal room to really fill up the entire mix. There’s nothing powerful enough to contend with his linguistics in this version of the song, and despite the singer-centric arrangement, nothing sounds so skewed towards the verse as to leave the audience feeling underwhelmed by the complete performance.
Unlike a lot of the other musicians I’ve heard cover “That’s the Way Love Goes,” Ronnue puts a lot more swing into the rhythm behind the percussion than he needs to, actually making his words the driving force behind the beat before the drums have a chance to settle into their spot in the arrangement. It’s aggressive and a little indulgent, but to be fair, it’s something we haven’t really seen this artist try to pull off prior to now. He has the chops, and whether we needed to know that now or not, he has no problem flexing his muscle when he wants to.
The bass has some serious oomph where it matters, but once more, it wouldn’t be as attractive an element were it not paired up with a vocal like the one we’re given in this single/video combo. In the new wave of R&B, and especially in the west coast underground, collective physicality is almost more important than poetic substance, but Ronnue is adeptly keeping both at the top of his priorities list here. If balance is his main goal, he couldn’t have done much better than he did with “That’s the Way Love Goes.”
If you’re a fan of melodic funk and alternative R&B with some familiar faceting not too distant from the mainstay sounds that formed the beginnings of soul and urban pop, Ronnue is someone you should already be listening to this autumn. For those who are coming to the table a little later than others, “That’s the Way Love Goes” puts forth some interesting elements more than sexy enough to make anyone intrigued by what this man can do when he’s given the microphone and no rules. I’ve been impressed for a while, and I think others will be with his performance here.