Review: ‘Hamilton’ Alumni Delivers a Solid Debut Album

Anthony Ramos Composes An Endearing Debut Album Entitled “The Good And The Bad”


Courtesy Of Republic Records

Anthony Ramos released “The Good and The Bad” on October 25, 2019.

Joshua Piper, Staff Writer

With the “In the Heights” movie on the horizon, Anthony Ramos, playing the male lead, released his first album. Anthony Ramos is best known for his roles of John Laurens and Phillip Hamilton in the Original Broadway Cast of “Hamilton”. The album, entitled The Good And The Bad, presents itself as one of the most intimate albums I have ever heard. Ramos uses simple lyrics, but the emotions embedded in his voice paired with the exceptional melodies make the album worth a listen.

“Dear Diary” is arguably the most intimate and wholesome song. Ramos discusses how he is thankful for his life, regardless of the imperfections. He expresses life may take him many different ways, but he won’t let go of the greatest lessons his family and friends have endowed upon him over the years. He details how he is always willing to be there for his loved ones even as he searches for himself. He truly wants for his loved ones to know he is doing his best and when he can’t find his way, his loved ones will be his compass. This song will resonate with many as it describes having trouble with parents, but Ramos illustrates his efforts to forgive and move on. The soulful and gospel feel to the song invites the listener to live in his skin. I feel this song urges the listener to crawl in Ramos’ experiences in order to be reminded how blessed many of us are to have families with doors wide open when we stumble.

The second track, “Auntie’s Basement”, while not as relatable as the other songs, comments the cons of fame. Ramos’ explains the parties celebrities have are nothing compared to the parties he had with his family. The song itself again brings us into his life, which I found to be one of the greatest attributes of the album. I got to explore his life and understand the issues he found himself in. Thus, in a way the song became more relatable. “One More Hour” seems to describe the events that lead to Ramos falling in love with Jasmine Cephas-Jones, a fellow “Hamilton” cast member. The song begins with a conversation between Ramos and what the listener can assume is a friend of his. The friend inquires what happened with the girl and Ramos states how intoxicating it was to spend time with the girl after a performance. He describes the journey he went on with this girl throughout the night before heading home. The melody is captivating and pulls the listener on this adventure with a continuous tick-tock from the piano. The piano resembles the time ticking by and eventually fades out as Ramos loses track of the hours flying by while being captivated with this girl, most likely Jones.

The fourth song on the album feels like a song to put on while traveling to the beach. “Isabella illustrates the occasional need to get away. Ramos speaks to his lover and persuades her to take a vacation. He begs her to go with him as without her the trip nor life would mean anything. Without her, Ramos would be incomplete, and he wants to give her a trip that she can enjoy in the midst of her overwhelming life. Ramos wants her to understand he wants to care for her even in the busy moments and that taking a break is okay. Furthermore, he wants to remove her from the incessant worrying about life, so he does everything to prevent any concerns in order to just enjoy and love each other on a vacation. Melodically, “Isabella”, became one of my favorite songs with the falsetto backing vocals. I felt as if I were escaping my worries to go to some beautiful coast and enjoy the beach. “Isabella” transports the listener away from their problems and truly feels like a breath of fresh ocean air.

The only pitfall to the album for me was the fifth track, “Mind Over Matter”. The song, inspired by Ramos and Jones’ relationship, explains a relationship is deeper than the physical attraction to someone. I personally did not enjoy the song due to Ramos’ rapping that feels more like mumbling, but I can understand why listeners would enjoy it. The faster tempo and techno beat allows for a much needed change of pace after what felt like lighter songs. The next track, “Relationship”, while repetitive has a great melody to make up for it. “Relationship” portrays the “in-between” stage of being friends and dating, and again allows for many to relate to Ramos’ music.     

My other favorite on the album, “Little Lies”, illustrates how the little white lies we tell have the biggest drawbacks on the relationships we have. The omitting of the tiny details that people do not want to disclose eventually come back to hurt them. Because of this it confuses Ramos why it is so hard for people to be completely honest, but by the end of the song he promises to work on it. I feel everyone can learn from this song and the chorus is so bright and lighthearted contrasting the mood of the lyrics. The bouncy chorus also provides contrast for the following track making it my favorite in or out of the context of the album. The next song “Woman” has an electronic tango beat and strikes me as a song of longing for a girl Ramos hurt. He wants to tell her that he was immature and didn’t understand how to treat a woman. However, he explains the growth he has undergone as he understands that he left because he wouldn’t understand her feelings. He pins this on the gender barrier between them. He admits he didn’t understand a woman’s feelings at the time. As it was not as optimistic compared to most of the other songs, “Woman” strikes the right chord as a yearning and melancholy song. 

Figure It Out reminds me of another musical theatre alumni’s music. Figure It Out has an extensive use of electronic mixing and reminds me especially of Payson Lewis’ “Take Me Apart. On the contrary, the meanings of the two are quite different. “Figure It Out” describes the procrastination Ramos has toward his own problems. He has no trouble giving advice, but instead he has difficulty with taking his own advice. The message is quite relatable, putting guilt on the listener for the issues they haven’t solved. I loved both the message and the music as it felt familiar to me. “Either Way” was a song that I found to grow on me. The lyrics aren’t impressive, but it emphasizes the stupidity of excuses humans give when problems occur. I feel this song confronts the human race and states sometimes you have to acknowledge your problems to find a solution. Ramos’ explains many times people expect being upset or angry will eventually alleviate the situation. However, Ramos explains that complaining gets people nowhere and solutions must be pursued. “Either Way” holds its place on the album as a satirical, yet motivational song.

The titular song “The Good And The Bad” portrays the message of duality in life. The happiness and the joy wouldn’t be appreciated without the sorrow. Ramos explains the highs and lows he has gone through, but in the end he is thankful for it all because every experience made him the person he is. The song, as simple as it is, uses his voice and melody to urge people to cling on to the moments, “The Good and The Bad”, to grow. I found this message to be endearing and the song became one I kept on repeat. This song is a reminder in hardships that something good comes out of it, so in the meantime hang onto the good times you have had.

Finally, “Come Back Home” is a ballad to his family. Ramos hopes they would understand that he needed to find his “paradise”. After leaving his home he realizes “paradise” is where his loved ones are. The song ends with a voicemail from his mother wondering where he is. I believe he included this in the song with the piano melody from “Dear Diary” to remind the listener how supportive and loving his family is. While he has gone through rough times, his family was always there and will always love him. I was awestruck by the ending and felt the callback to his original message ended the album perfectly.

Overall, the album is built on Ramos’ ability to be relatable. He understands human struggle, but urges himself and his audience to push to be better human beings. Even the songs specific to his life felt relatable due to the intimacy I believe Ramos wanted to have with his listener. The Good and The Bad album excites me to see what Ramos puts out in the future as he matures as an artist.