There’s just something about a debut album that captures the spirit of the artist, often in a way that becomes elusive in follow up releases. For Robbie Nevil, the first time seemed to be the charm. Nevil had been writing for r&b acts like El DeBarge, The Pointer Sisters and Earth Wind and Fire for years before he decided to finally writing for his own debut album.
Nevil took a lot of people by surprise. While he may have dressed like a stunt double for Michael Hutchens of INXS, the blue eyed souls that came from him was closer to Philly than Perth. This contrast may have been part of his charm, but the look and the irony of it also worked for George Michael.
His first single off his major label debut was “C’Est la Vie”, a song that after doing well on the R&B charts did even better as a mainstream pop single. After peaking on the Billboard Top Singles chart at #2, Nevil like George Michael had become one of the few pop artist who also scored on the R&B chart. It was easy to see why. Nevil had a sometimes restrained nasal delivery that could sound like Kenny Loggins at times. The production combined exotic real instruments with technology to create a forward looking pop sound, without sounding too electronic.
The gospel-styled backup singers complimented Nevil’s considerable vocal range and added a touch of classic soul to otherwise very modern arrangements. Other singles like “Wot’s It to Ya,” fared well on both the r&b, dance and pop charts, but not with the same impact as ‘C’Est la Vie’.
After the dust settled from the impact Robbie Nevil had on radio, and video outlets (especially VH-1), Nevils musical fortunes would follow the all too common downward trajectory after his second and third albums failed to capture the public’s attention. While his career as solo artist had a soft landing, fortunately all was not lost as Nevil simply returned to writing music.
While not quite a one hit wonder, Nevil has since worked with and written for Babyface, Jessica Simpson and destiny’s Child since retiring his microphone.