Jordan Rakei – Wallflower
The ambition evident on Jordan Rakei’s debut album Cloak led us to call him one of the country’s finest future-soul artists.
That doesn’t change with the release of Wallflower, his debut for the revered Ninja Tune label. But it feels like Rakei has struck an even more impressive balance between aptitude and accessibility than ever.
Gorgeous opening track ‘Eye To Eye’ will summon Jeff Buckley fans straight away, and there are definitely shades of that acclaimed singer throughout the album. But Rakei’s influences extend far beyond that. Before that opening track is over we get shades of dub, jazz and soul, as well as an indie bent (that bridge is so Radiohead) that will endear him to many.
The songs on Cloak were impressive, but Rakei has stepped up his game on Wallflower. You can hear his growth as a writer, the way he uses sounds and textures more judiciously than previously.
People will appreciate the restraint – the gentle lilt of ‘May’, the lounge-pop of ‘Goodbyes’, the stunning harmonies and gentle handclaps that colour ‘Lucid’ – it’s easy listening music with enormous depth.
Somehow, he injects brilliant musicality into these songs, but if you’re not listening out for it, you’d hardly even notice.
Making complex music sound effortless and pleasant is an enviable talent. To impress the nerds without alienating those of us who don’t know the meaning of the word Mixolydian is a monumental skill that requires both great knowledge and the ability to edit oneself.
It’s something Rakei has always had a knack for, but it feels like his concept of what will connect, as well as impress, is becoming even further refined.
And while this bodes incredibly well for this (still very young) artist’s future, we mustn’t look past the immense talent he’s shown on Wildflower, which is an enormously accomplished collection of music.