Anthony Ramos is already well-known thanks to his starring role in In the Heights, and with his second album Love and Lies he’s setting his sights on full-on pop stardom. For those expecting show tunes, you can exit stage left. Instead, the Broadway actor is on a different vibe with sexy R&B tracks, pop-and-lockable bangers, and Latin-influenced party jams.

Ramos is New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent, placing him in a tradition of Nuyorican actors/singers that includes Jennifer Lopez and Lin-Manuel Miranda. His debut album, 2019’s The Good & The Bad, was thematically dark and heavy at times, the odes to the power of sexual healing on Love and Lies are lighter and looser, and all the better for it. He channels Eighties synth-pop in “Lose My Mind,” his freaky ode to a toxic romance that’s got him hooked. “I lose my fucking mind when you take off your clothes,” he sings. The horns up the funk and Latin factor. In “Blessings,” he embraces Afro-beats while singing his lover’s praises. “You know them hips don’t lie / Caught that Caribbean vibe,” he croons. “Échale” is a reggaeton-infused standout and his bilingual party starter.

Ramos goes full pop on “Nobody Else,” the album’s best track, evoking Max Martin’s 2000s era hits for the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC. As he taste-tastes multiple musical flavors, he sometimes gets lost in the sauce, as on the generic title track and “In the Night,” where his smoldering vocal is swallowed up by disco beats. Even if Ramos is still finding his groove as a pop star, Love and Lies is a promising step in the right direction. 

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