RAYE Re-Emerges Victoriously with Her Brilliant Debut LP ‘My 21st Century Blues’ [Album Review]

Olive Soki
Callum Walker Hutchinson

In all phases and iterations of life, it is paramount to believe in yourself. And when the time comes to punch through that infamous glass ceiling, understanding and truly recognizing your potential can go a long way. Artists all over have been documenting this gruesome process, giving us the necessary motivation to do the same in our lives. Today, RAYE has come to us with her debut LP titled My 21st Century Blues, a tale that documents strength through adversity and reminds us of the light that follows such hardships.

Introduced with an incredibly effective expository track, RAYE welcomes us to a lounge like setting, priming us for the intimate and fairly revelatory experience to come. From love, to the trials and tribulations that she experienced in the industry as a young artist, RAYE uses this record to peel back the layers to the experiences that brought this very album to life. Overlooked for years by higher ups in the industry, she had to fight tooth and nail to realize her vision and prove her potential as a solo artist. One of the singles released in anticipation of the album, "Hard Out Here." sees her denounce the industry's past attempts to silence her.

Despite the deceptive and sorrowful nature of the themes explored throughout the album, there is a sense of victory laced within each track. Armed with a force – and voice – to be reckoned with, she speaks to the harsher realities of life with an astounding sense of self. For instance, a languid track like “Mary Jane.,” which references the allure of various substances, is performed with such control and hypnotizing sway, it is impossible not to succumb to her power.

While my 21st Century Blues was born from her individual experiences, it is impossible not to identify with its content. On the somber side of things, “Body Dysmorphia.,” and "Environmental Anxiety.,” explore alarmingly contemporary themes in very necessary and artful ways. Alternatively, “Worth It.” and “Buss It Down.” ooze of love and optimism. In hindsight, knowing that some of the reservations regarding her solo material were their potential inaccessibility is unfathomable.

Honest, powerful and most of all aspirational, from its inception to RAYE’s performance, my 21st Century Blues outlines this very human desire for visibility and truth. Now, passing on the gift of experience, to her listeners she signs off with gratitude and grace as she finally gets to savor the fruits of her seven years of labor.

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