RĀI – Back to Life
RĀI – Back to Life
The beauty and thoughtfulness that goes into RĀI’s music is the end result of passion and commitment few other young performers, any genre, can match. “Back to Life” is testimony about redemption free from any obvious spiritual trappings and, thus, all the more effective. There is a strong gospel influence, however, in this young singer’s (pronounced Ray) vocal approach that meshes quite nicely with the soul and R&B strains so prominent in both his voice and the musical arrangement. It’s a performance that the production frames in a compelling way – the common knock on electronic instruments, sterility, isn’t relevant here at all and it sounds completely credible within the context of this number. Instead, there’s a slight degree of theatricality fueling the recording that syncs up well with its clear musical strengths and it gives him a perfect forum for displaying the breadth of his considerable talents.
One can easily imagine this track leading off his debut album but, even if it doesn’t, it’s the sort of high quality number that enriches a release wherever its placed. It runs nearly four minutes and has immense intelligence underpinning its build. The movement of the song, from verse to chorus and instrumental breaks as well, reflects a refined sensibility that knows how to construct a song to make maximum impact on listeners. The electronic sound of the backing instruments never disconnects listeners from the song because its immersed in the necessary warmth and immediacy to make the song connect with any listeners open to its experience. The mood of the piece, likewise, is part of the entire package and carefully modulated in such a way that it connects quick with listeners thanks to its lack of being overwrought. The chorus is particularly effective and the percussion during that section complements his vocal very well.
It’s especially nice to hear such a nuanced, confident vocal from someone so young. RĀI’s immensely thoughtful lyrics get the sort of Class-A treatment they deserve from a singing performance that phrases every word with appealing self-consciousness about conveying his message to listeners. It’s a message that’s worth hearing. He fearlessly shares himself with the audience in a way that clearly invites you to find resonance with his story and never attempts to force any interpretations on listeners. There’s something profoundly human and beautiful about this singing that makes connecting with the material very easy. Love’s On the Way promises to be one of 2018’s most memorable releases if the quality of the surrounding material matches the brilliance we hear here. “Back to Life” is a thoroughly adult tune with a smooth, fluid groove that shows RĀI is ready for the biggest stage possible. This South Carolina headquartered talent has the kind of gifts that don’t come along too often and we have years of enjoyment ahead of us listening to him develop and each untold heights.