It’s no secret that we’re in something of a modern-day R&B golden age. A plethora of artists have re-defined the genre, grappling with the challenges presented by production innovation, while blending this with the deep roots and stunning legacy that R&B possesses. Yet even amid this crowded field – this Summer’s, the Teyena’s, the Ari’s – Ravyn Lenae offers something distinct and different, something charged in a very personal kind of energy.
Opening with ‘Cameo’ – a song that feels like a direct homage to the 80s electro-funk group of the same name – new album ‘Hypnos’ is marked by creative dedication, and Ravyn’s finely honed curatorial abilities. A keen collaborator, production credits include work from some of the best in the game, with Kaytranada, Steve Lacy, Smino, Foushee, and more contributing to this complex, multi-faceted project.
Yet the voice that resonates most profoundly comes from Ravyn Lenae herself. ‘Venom’ and ‘Inside Out’ are two early highlights, moving with an assured sense of purpose. ‘Skin Tight’ is gorgeous, it’s mellifluous tones both complex and sharply defined. ‘Lullabye’ is a truly stunning piece of music, a zero-gravity slice of alt-R&B that moves from gentle vocal dexterity into something opaque, suggestive, and wonderfully alluring.
‘Xtasy’ oozes emotion, while the guitar-led minimalism of ‘Mercury’ – with its startling Foushee feature – is a late album highlight. Indeed, in spite of its 16-track span ‘Hypnos’ remains an impeccably unified experience, one in which each aspect feels inter-connected, each sound in its right place.
Her first major project since 2018, ‘Hypnos’ has the feeling of creative release, a sense of emotions expunged and experiences extinguished. A gorgeous listen with a deep, lasting resonance, ‘Hypnos’ finds Ravyn Lenae rising to the challenge of her peers, and raising the bar once more.
Words: Robin Murray
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