Zimbabwe-born Tinashe Fazakerley has taken the long road to releasing his debut studio album. Well, in actual fact, this is the London-based singer’s second chance at a debut album, with his first being issued under the name Tinashe back in 2010. That album, ‘Saved’, was not met with much fanfare upon release, however, a seven-year grind and a name change has led to ‘Rationale’ being one of this year’s most anticipated R&B projects.
Anyone that has been actively following Rationale’s career from the re-birth in 2015 may feel as though this project provides little new material. While it is true that seven of the twelve tracks have previously been released as singles, they are given new life within the context of the album. Fazakerley’s first single as Rationale, ‘Fast Lane’, appears early in the album and the track feels as nocturnally majestic and melancholy as ever.
Perhaps an ironic nod to his career reset, the opening track ‘Re-Up’ is an energetic and upbeat demonstration of Rationale’s undeniable vocal ability. His soulful baritone borders on the androgynous, providing an other-worldly feel throughout the album. Alongside his vocal prowess, Fazakerley has also become a sought-after songwriter, working with Rag n Bone Man among others, and it is easy to see why. Tracks early on in the album like ‘Oil and Water’ and ‘Loving Life’ are radio-ready records, with both songs containing magnificently sweeping choruses and captivating instrumentals.
It is Rationale’s ability to combine an ear for a pop chorus with personality and storytelling that set him apart from his pop-R&B contemporaries. This is illustrated best on ‘Prodigal Son’, which acts as an open letter to his father and an intense insight into his upbringing, something that very few artists could pull off with such fascinating introspection.
Despite this, there are moments when the tracks can start to lose momentum. ‘Losing Sleep’ isn’t bad but sounds like a bit of a throwaway, as does ‘Deliverance’; also a fairly forgettable number. Thankfully, the album closes with one of the strongest tracks — ‘Somewhere To Belong’, which is a touching reflection on Tinashe Fazakerley’s journey so far.
‘Rationale’ is a project which highlights Fazakerley’s vocal and songwriting dexterity, and is delivered with an impressive style and confidence. After a couple of career false starts, on ‘Rationale’ the singer sounds determined not to let anything stop him this time around.
Words: Will Rosebury
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