Romain Virgo ADD


Album Review: Romain Virgo - The Gentle Man


by Gardy Stein

Album Review: Romain Virgo - The Gentle Man

Be gentle with yourself and others! In a world plagued with violence and aggressiveness, we urgently need more care, understanding and mindfulness – especially from the male side. Good thing there are successful role models like Romain Virgo, capturing the world by storm and charm with his new album The Gentle Man. The press release calls it "arguably his most personal and revelatory album yet", and indeed it opens the doors wide to the young singer, his craft and his experiences.

Prime example of this authenticity: Been There Before is a shining hymn, both musically and lyrically, a hymn to life's journey that acknowledges the painful passages as much as the joyful ones. A versatile Masicka joins the conversation with bars of deep reflection and encouragement, and every time the chorus comes in, it's like a hallelujah. Outstanding production and arrangement by Romeich Major, Niko Browne and Rayon 'Slyda' Curate!   

Another impressive guest artist, Jesse Royal flows alongside Romain Virgo in Bridges, elaborating on that very wise saying "don't burn your bridges behind you". As soon as the riddim starts, I'm assaulted by the same goosebumps it caused in Mortimer's Misery - something I have come to call the Winta James effect, as it often happens with his innovative creations.

And with theirs too: Silly Walks Discotheque contributes a riddim into which they seem to have poured all their Afrobeats connaissance, resulting in an intricate, danceable beat that is seized by the joint force of Romain and Nigerian colleague Patoranking. "This is a public appreciation to every mother who's raising 1, 2, 3, 4 children without a father…" I Believe hits different in this honest acknowledgement of the strength and resilience of all single mums out there!

Moving to the extensive lovers' section, we have the sexy Switch You On in which Virgo climbs incredible heights vocally (well balanced by a captivating, grounding bassline), and the equally seductive No Curfew that paints vivid images of some passionate twosome time. Changing into emotive yearning in Want You Now or Red Dress, the overall tone here is lover's rock, of course, leaning into modern roots in Driver and the mournful Just Like That, which talks about a longtime partner who decided to leave.

While the subject stays on the relationship side, the mood switches audibly in Good Woman and Take It Or Leave It. In the latter, a slow fusion of Trap and R&B over an off-beat core, the singer offers himself and all he has to give to the woman of his choice. The former, on the other hand, brings in more spicy Afrobeats, to the lively backdrop of which Romain praises smile, attitude, style and loyalty of the lady in his life.    

A powerful finish (and all back to hand-played roots reggae), You Must Pay is set ablaze by Capleton with an angry charge against those who have the power to change things for the better, but stick to evil and greed instead: "modern slavery is your only interest, biological killer in that you invest". Impressive: the call-and-answer interaction between the lead and the background singers.

Having thus reached the end of the release, it is clear that Romain Virgo's fourth album with VP Records is another high-quality affair. Among the producers involved in this project are heavyweight names such as those mentioned above and Donovan 'Don Corleon' Bennett, Oliver 'Cadenza' Rodigan or Maurice 'Seani B' Delauney, making the twelve tracks an array of refreshing sonic diversity.

The Gentle Man comes like a promise, a counter-design to the rampant toxic masculinity which today is as outdated as bullfights and knights and monarchies. Talking about the creation process, Romain Virgo explains: "I kept some important questions in mind while working on this album. Who am I to my fans? To those close to me? To myself? People saw me go from this inexperienced youth with a gentle way of doing things to a man with the same morals, but new understanding. With this project, I present my full, authentic self. This is who I am." (press release)

Release details

Romain Virgo - The Gentle Man

Romain Virgo - The Gentle Man


Release date: 03/01/2024


01. Been There Before feat. Masicka
02. Switch You On
03. Good Woman
04. I Believe feat. Patoranking
05. Want You Now
06. Red Dress
07. Driver
08. No Curfew
09. Take It Or Leave It
10. Just Like That
11. Bridges feat. Jesse Royal
12. You Must Pay feat. Capleton