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Now that winter is here to stay, I thought it was only appropriate to yell Welcome to the Winter in unison with Raye. Even though, paradoxically, I’ve put her EP on repeat while I was on holidays in the summery Indian Ocean last month.
Welcome to the Winter is Raye’s first project. Also known as Rachel Keen, this talented – she sings and writes since 10 – English young lady inevitably ended cutting her teeth as an artist at the BRIT School. Now, at only 17, her résumé also features Ella Fitzgerald, Lauryn Hill and Drake amongst her influences and the piano as her preferred instrument, although the teenager used to play the cello and the flute and kinda knows how to strum a guitar.
Filled with bass, synths and electronic notes, the R&B songstress’ EP – which she recorded, cowrote et coproduced – starts softly with a haunting yet hypnotizing W2TW. Bad Faith, my favorite track, shows undisputably better the extent of her vocal abilities with beautiful and flying high notes at the end, but always with some restraint. This reserve is only technical though: the emotions are really flowing, running through every modulation.
Need Me probably justifies those similarities with Rihanna mentioned elsewhere on the world wide web while the Birdsong interlude presents itself as a jazzier piece, followed soon enough by Bet U Wish which could possibly leads to some comparisons with Jhené Aiko, whom she shares the same casual phrasing with. And that’s when it finally hits you: Raye is younger than the way she sounds. Then you’ll marvel at her way with words, so mature but often surprisingly dark and tough for a teenage girl when others at the same age sing about butterflies in their stomach and secret crushes, even though love is still one of her preoccupations as demonstrated with Just Like That, with a treatment way less cheesy than some songs of her young colleagues nevertheless. A bit lighter than the previous tracks, Hotbox installs a proximity with the listener, half-way between singing and speaking.
All of this is already quite – even VERY – impressive for a 17-year-old, am I right? Well, it seems that Warner/Chappell UK thought the same and I believe they didn’t make a mistake when they offered her a deal back in December. This signature might explain why Welcome to the Winter is not available as a free download anymore since two weeks now (I’ve always said that you should enjoy those complimentary records while there’s still time!) but please go ahead and stream it as much as you like…
Check these tracks asap: Bad Faith, Bet U Wish, Hotbox.
Raye Welcome to the Winter, now only available for streaming on Soundcloud.