There is a certain coldness to September that reminds us that Autumn is creeping around corner. Yet the brilliant, musical creativity of Jordan Rakei has returned in full bloom this month for his fourth studio album ‘What We Call Life’. This process of finding positivity in the not so positive aspects of life influenced Rakei in the production of his contemplative, ten track album. Listeners are guided by the humble, personal reflections of Rakei – who shows a new level of vulnerability.
‘What We Call Life’ plunges straight into the opening track ‘Family’. Perhaps diving into the deep end is reflective of the challenging experiences and learnings Rakei has gained from therapy, which he begun in 2019. It also showcases his ability to transform difficult memories – the divorce of his parents for instance - into amazing music. The New Zealand born artist, now living in London, injects a sense of lonely anxiety into this single - influenced by the distance between himself and his family.
Emotional lows may linger through each track thereafter, yet the sensitive subject matter is transformed into moments of upbeat groove. This intwining of emotions, from ‘Family’ through to ‘The Flood’, captures the reality of juxtaposing emotions. Rakei may mentally struggle to navigate between them but articulates his relatable personal struggles with ease, expressed through velvety lyricism. The 29-year-old’s skilful complexity as a musician and producer has undoubtedly progressed along with his self-development.
‘The Flood’ somewhat concludes Rakei’s philosophical endeavour into ‘What We Call Life’, for he “don’t care no more” – a sign of strength in an album anticipated as the artists most intimate yet. There is a sense in this final track of Jordan Rakei coming to terms with the past and freeing himself of the “weight of my mistake”, as confessed to in ‘Brace’. A song cycle that matches gorgeous soul and jazz influences against the framework of emotional experience, ‘What We Call Life’ offers further insight into Jordan Rakei’s inner world.
Words: Amelia Kelly
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