RAYE has finally released her long-awaited debut album on Feb. 3. It consists of 15 tracks, including the introduction and conclusion interludes, and it is evident yet again that RAYE’s penmanship leaves behind a trail of fire.
From start to finish, the album effortlessly transitions into track after track, telling her story in the process. In the introduction interlude, we start the album with a man introducing RAYE as if she were an artist in a jazz lounge. The piano plays in the background as the man’s soothing, warm tone invites you in. Then, we get into the first track.
“Oscar Winning Tears” tells RAYE’s story of getting over a guy who seemed legit but inevitably broke her heart in the end. Not only does she deliver vocals, but she also delivers a testimonial pain, cementing that she can relate as well as her audience. In the end, she simply says, “And after his Oscar-winning performance, I left the room, and never saw him again.”
“Hard Out Here” and “Black Mascara” follow as classic bass-boosted and dance pop tracks that fall seamlessly into the story RAYE is presenting. “Hard Out Here” talks about the challenges of being in the industry as the slept-on underdog and rising above it all, hence “bouncing back.”
“Black Mascara” is the penultimate track before “Escapism” featuring 070 Shake, which I already discussed my love and admiration for in my “RAYE Has Created A New Genre of Music” article. To me, this song seemed like a prequel almost since both songs coincide with the latter emotions that surface after a breakup, simply asking the question of “Do you know how it feels and do you know what you have done?”
After “Escapism,” we get into “Mary Jane,” in which RAYE herself described it as a love letter to her previous drug addiction and substance abuse, but she also wanted to create an uncomfortable feeling to listeners. RAYE states, “‘I’m an all-or-nothing person in every aspect of my life. So, when something dangerous is introduced, it can get really bad–really, really bad.”
The seventh track “The Thrill Is Gone” is influenced by B.B. King’s song with the same title, and to me, this closes the chapter on the toxic person RAYE had these experiences with. She hides her pain behind the funky upbeat tempo to describe that the relationship has lost the excitement it once had, and she feels lost because of that fact.
“Ice Cream Man,” “Body Dysmorphia,” and “Environmental Anxiety” all have to deal with real-life issues such as sexual assault, body image issues and the anticipation of our own demise caused by our hands.
“Ice Cream Man” is by far the most vulnerable, honest song out there, currently, because not only is it her hardest song to perform, RAYE dives into her many accounts as well as the sickening feelings and emotions that erupt out of anyone who has had to deal with this. I personally have not experienced this, but I was able to admire her bravery to tell her story.
The ninth and 12th tracks “Flip A Switch” and “Five Star Hotels” with a Mahalia feature introduces that dark, sensual bass to give off a sexy, empowering energy. RAYE asserts her dominance and her nonchalant attitude into the night life all while wanting companionship. These are songs that can be carpool karaoke on a girl’s night out.
The final tracks before the concluding interlude are “Worth It” and “Buss It Down” and for me, it has been a hot minute since I have heard a genuinely happy song that uplifts my spirits. I remember having an authentic smile and enjoying myself as the groovy beat and ballad piano sent me to heaven.
The conclusion interlude sent us listeners a personalized “thank you” from the queen herself as she thanked her family, producer, and Tia. She finishes off this star-dazzling album by saying, “I’ve waited seven years for this moment/Finally, ‘My 21st Century Blues’ is now ours, forever/Till next time, lots of love, RAYE.”
For me, this album on its first listen and every time after had me wanting more. She is for sure my favorite new artist because of her penmanship, her story, her passionate vocals, and her consistency.
RAYE possesses a level of both talent and artistry that has not been seen lately in the industry that demands your attention. If people stay sleeping on her, those who see her for the gem she is will continue to savor every moment of her blossoming career.