The first track of Jordan Rakei‘s upcoming album ‘Wallflower’ (out on September 22 via Ninja Tune), ‘Sorceress’, already walked with a pleasing rolling gait, while being perfectly well-balanced arrangement-speaking. The sensation of being on a boat floating on a smooth sea rested on a soft, yet steady rhythm section.
Same goes for the new single ‘Nerve’, which this time builds on the addition of a funky rhythm guitar – did someone asked for Nile Rogers? With the help of moaning violins, it is the perfect introduction for the introspective lyrics and pendulous voice placement.
After about a minute of this regime, the first verse ends gracefully with a quite unexpected chord and a bluesy guitar lick. By this stage, the listener is well cooked and perfectly prepared to receive whatever comes next. And therein comes the rub. The chorus – which is basically an apologetic cry of self-pity – ruins it all. Not that it is actually bad – here again reigns a beautiful balance in the mix of instruments – but it just begs for sympathy. The melody, far from saving the song from corniness (is this a word ?) only achieves to remind me of a 2000s teenage rock band which doe not very well there.
Thankfully, Jordan Rakei is not the only soul singer who fell into the pathos trap. Some Allen Stone songs too suffer from the same defects, which does not prevent him from being one of the best voices of his generation, and a wonderful entertainer.
Maybe the reason for Jordan Rakei‘s poor choice of artistic direction can be found in the song itself and how he mourns his lack of self-esteem. In his own words, ‘The song is about the concept of loving yourself wholly and truly before you offset that love onto others’. Let’s just hope that the rest of the album is as confiant as it deserves to be.
BONUS: Re-discover ‘Sorceress’