(February 9, 2020) Ruben Cruz’s name might not be familiar to soul listeners at large, but he’s been in the game for several decades. Starting out as one-third of ‘90s hip-hop/R&B trio Po’, Broke & Lonely? (other than Michel’le, the only vocal act signed to late rapper Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records), he joined a newly formed line-up of self-contained quartet Portrait (“Here We Go Again”) in the early 2000s with founding members Phillip Johnson and Michael Angelo Saulsberry.
Cruz continues to perform with Portrait as the group promotes its new album, Afro Trees; concurrently, the boutique Soul Japan label has issued a limited 7” single of two new solo tracks: “Full Circle” and “Back in Time.” Both will be available digitally in February. And here at SoulTracks, we have an exclusive digital First Listen of “Back in Time.” The funky number, laced with twinkling, retro synth lines and a bumpin’ rhythm track, finds Cruz serving up an appealingly conversational vocal take, topped off with sharp, well-placed self-harmonizing.
Cruz’s vocal vibe fits like a glove over the throwback lyrics: “Those times when the last kiss meant one more time, sleepin’ on the phone and always blockin’ up the line/Creepin’ through the window when nobody wasn’t home, the way we used to wine and dine when you were mine.” Together with the groove, it’s the perfect backdrop for a classic night at the roller-skating rink. Go “Back in Time” below and let us know what you think!