Here to stay
Brimming with lush soulful singing and captivating maximalist production, Jordan Rakei’s new album Origin is a cool drink of alt R&B. The production is soulful, upbeat and features a diverse array of styles from downtempo electronic to funk and smooth jazz. Rakei’s voice is expressive and calming, his words are poetic, and the production carries a thick atmosphere of lively energy.
“Mad World” opens the album with a reflection on the fear and despair carried within society, the production is solid, simple and effective against Rakei’s vocals. “Mind’s Eye” is a funky and laid back R&B track with some pretty electronic arpeggios and light groovy percussive elements. Everything fits together and sounds excellently mixed. “Rolling into One” is more of a traditional funk song. Walking bass lines and four to the floor beats transition into a spacey and atmospheric bridge and back into a beat switch with more electronic elements. This sense of structure and composition really makes each song sound like a complete thought and Rakei puts enough variety in the lyrics and production to keep the album from getting dull.
“Wildfire” has a subtle ’90s smooth jazz motif but with modern sophistication and serene instrumental layering. Percussion holds these tracks together, the soft steady hi-hat clang carries the piano chords and electronic guitar embellishments under Jordans serene but captivating vocals. “You and Me” is another ’90s Jazz throwback, but Rakei has enough sense to add strangely beautiful transitions, the beat switches and melodic sophistication shows signs of true musicianship and while borderline overproduced in areas, such balanced maximalism is impressive.
Jordan Rakei crafts seemingly effortless contemporary R&B. Everything has been thought of and sounds in place, even when things get complex. The sound is sophisticated but easy to listen to, the lyrics are neither dumb nor pretentious. And while Rakei’s vocals aren’t the most unique or jaw-dropping, he does a lot with what he has and makes the most of every track.