Some of the truly monumental musical talents are singers and songwriters who view their chosen vocation as something akin to a holy mandate. Music has impacted their lives in such a way they now feel charged with the joyous duty to bring about the same changes in the lives of their listeners. Young R&B and soul giant in the making RĀI, on the basis of his single “Back to Life”, shares the same mission.
The positive message he aims to pack into each song is shared by this performance and comes off with a satisfying amount of artistry balancing the song’s message and musicality with rare deftness. The groove-defining much of this song is flawlessly handled and the sounds RĀI unveils to realize the song’s potential are expertly chosen while still showing the restraint to use such colors in an artful fashion.
RĀI Takes It To The Next Level With ‘Back To Life’
The song kicks off with a short synth-driven flourish before the dominant backbeat enters and sets an immediate tone. This is a performer who, as a writer and singer alike, is a definite proponent of the groove in music, but he isn’t beholden to it. “Back to Life”, like its title perhaps implies, works through a number of well-timed changes that gives the song different looks that, nonetheless, sound like they are part of the same overall package.
The dynamics that result give him a memorable stage to display his talents, but the music is never secondary to his vocal magic. Instead, they contrast with each other to excellent effect. It creates a coherent and seamless mood. Listeners will be able to concentrate on this mood throughout. Each individual element of the song is given ample room to develop and nothing feels rushed thanks to the song being given an adequate amount of time to unfurl its virtues.
His voice makes it all come to a whole new level however. The care, breathy passion, and technique he couples together for this performance accords the great lyric the attention it rightly deserves without ever risking self-indulgence or overwrought theatricality. Much of what makes R&B or soul, the top shelf variety, so memorable is the amount of restraint exercised by its practitioners and RĀI has clearly learned that lesson well. The intimacy of his performance is enormously impressive and not put on in any way or form.
“Back to Life” comes across as a sincere and deeply personal statement that never forgets its mandate, as well, to entertain audiences. He does so with palpable stylishness. It’s an astonishingly effective single that begins the year of RĀI on a colossally high note and there’s nothing about this performance to indicate he won’t equal or better the quality here in relatively short order. If you appreciate five-star R&B and soul with a truly heartfelt edge, “Back to Life” will affect you in a way few songs can.
Find more RAI on his website – www.therealrai.com
-review by David Shouse