Rae-Ashe Album Review
By: Mia Picciuca
An unexpected jazzy intro, a hint of southern twang, and a clever sarcastic tone are just the beginning of what makes Ashe’s sophomore album Rae something special. When first listening to the album, I found it refreshing. Her variety of instrumentation, incorporation of different genres, and witty lyrics bring something unique to the table. Personally, I love when artists include a “theme” instrumental into their albums. Her choice to add “Rae’s theme” as the first song helps to set the tone and establish cohesiveness. Abruptly after the alluring jazz intro, “Another Man’s Jeans'' begins. Here, the album really starts to come to life. The upbeat groove offers a slight rockabilly feel with its prominent percussion and Chuck Berry-esk guitar riffs. My favorite part of this song is when she calls out in an exaggerated cadence “Alright here’s what I’m not saying ‘Let’s get back together’”. A funny lyric like this creates relatability and also keeps the song intriguing.
Next, the album takes a turn and slows down for the next two songs. Her third song “Hope You’re Not Happy” is the petty anthem we didn’t know we all needed. Even though the song definitely carries a more somber feel, her comedic tone still rings through during the chorus and even turns vengeful. The bluntness of her lyrics again creates a sense of relatability. Instead of presenting a perfectly put together reaction to pain, she truthfully says: “I hope you’re not happy without me. I hope you get angry about me.” Preceding her vengeful anthem she taps into a much more vulnerable side. “Shower With My Clothes On” captures the feeling of overwhelm with a dizzying chorus and honest lyrics. In an interview, she revealed that she hoped young people specifically would connect with the subject matter. “...omw” a more optimistic tune serves as a segway into her next two more lively songs. “Angry Woman” is a feminist banger that especially allows for her sarcastic tone to shine through. Clever lyrics such as “ Oh, what a shame my tongue’s not tied” and “ You can do whatever you want, I’ll do whatever I like” accentuate her sly yet powerful tone. The last “upbeat” song is ironically titled “Emotional”. It also happens to be one of my absolute favorites off of the album. Fast paced lyrical phrasing, rockabilly guitar riffs, horns, and the overall jubilant vibe perfectly encompass the overall theme of the album.
The last seven songs swap her previously spunky attitude for a more reflective and somber tone. Abimitibly, I do prefer the first half of the album more, as I can find that the latter half drags on a bit at times. However, there are certainly still beautiful lyrics and unique melodies that follow the beginning of the Album. For instance, “Love Is Letting Go” was written about her experience with loss after her brother passed away due to addiction. She invited famous actor Diane Keaton to sing on the track with her as she too had experienced the loss of a brother. Additionally, “San Jose” is another song I appreciate off the B side. This song in particular ties in the jazzy vibes well with smooth vocals and an intro that reminds me of a mixture of “Spooky” by Dusty Springfield and “Time Of The Season” by the Zombies. The rest of the songs towards the end haven’t stuck out to me as significantly, but I found that over time I have developed more of an appreciation for them.
After each re-listen of the album, I find myself taking away new findings. On a scale of 1-10 I would give the album a solid 7. My rating would heighten if the southern and Jazz themes were more heavily embedded into the album. There was a stronger presence of them early on, but they began to taper towards the end. Overall, I would definitely recommend giving this album a try. Given that her songs discuss a variety of subjects, a variety of people can take away an array of meanings. I appreciate the vulnerability and honesty of her album. There was not anything disingenuous about her lyrics, and that is ultimately what is most important.