With a touch of artistry from Chicago born R&B singer Ravyn Lenae, pre-party prep becomes a sensual and ritualistic process of self care, and emotions begin to narrate themselves through bright colors, and sweet, haunting, electric vocals.
Lenae’s newly released EP, Crush, is an extension of this particular musical identity, yet is differentiated from her other work by producer Steve Lacy’s influence and inventive pushes both challenging and complementing her throughout the tracks.
Crush, all throughout, carries a constant sparkling and pulsating groove. Worthy as a backdrop for something as simple as a train ride, oiling your hair, or for a night of more intimate self introspection. What truly makes each song stunning, is that often the subject of lyricsim is something as mundane as fixing your edges before a night out, or unraveling the intricacies of a seemingly young romantic conflict. Yet even in songs that speak on these themes, such as, “The Night Song,” or “Computer Luv,” the issues are amplified in significance, they are no longer portrayed as trivial matters, and that vulnerability and youthful desire experienced by both a young woman or man in the moment is depicted as this powerful and magical thing. The mesmerizing melodies that carry her vulnerability remind listeners that their experiences, too, are beautiful, valid and should be praised! The overall feel, emanating from almost every song on this EP, is a certain self assurance, and an unapologetic pour of emotions, both light-hearted and deeper ones. We see the formation of her unique style through each song.
The album further showcases Lenae’s individual talent, through her songs featuring Lacy. Of this four track project exploring modernist soul, arguably one of the best songs is “Sticky.” The chemistry between Lenae and Lacy in this track, is heavy and proves the two young creators share something quite special. Lenae, dances swiftly through cadences over Lacy’s unusual riffs, her “woo-hoo-hoo’s” drawing you in, almost as if she’s letting you in on a secret. Her harmonies are also showcased as they layer, in many of the songs, still remaining strong and distinctive, over interesting chord progressions and instrumentals unique to Lacy.
“Closer” and “Computer Luv,” also reign as favorites for me on the EP, with their fresh, psychedelic notes and quirky narratives. The maturation of her voice and experience is noticeable in both of these songs, her falsetto, similar to Erykah Badu’s, and the regular sensual soundscapes of her music making her noticeable. Lenae and Lacy’s voices melt together and comment on their compatibility in “Computer Luv”, as they sing “I shed a tear down/My face, drip and drown/My feelings into this one text/I wonder what is next/Will I catch real feelings for you?”
Crush, proves 19 year old Lenae is a detailed lyricist and increasingly present and distinctive artist, her soft yet striking sensuality and pridefully embraced vulnerability radiating through the narratives of her songs, and harmonies incorporated.