RAYE drops My 21st Century Blues
RAYE drops My 21st Century Blues

REVIEW: RAYE is generational talent on extraordinary My 21st Century Blues

“Every bad situation is a blues song waiting to happen,” said Amy Winehouse.

It’s that determination that RAYE nods to on long, long, long-awaited debut album My 21st Century Blues. With the record receiving mighty critical approval, the 25-year-old is earning comparisons to generational talents such as Winehouse and, having likely just dropped the album of the year, every gushing review like this one is truly deserved.

The tale which takes place over the record’s 46 minutes is no secret. After years of hitting her head against the wall in a recording label contract that stunted artistry of this level, RAYE comes all guns blazing to tell her story.

‘Hard Out Here.’ is the epitome of that battle. Venom is laced in lines of, “I figured a way out, my pen is a gun and I’m gonna spray now” on a track which crescendos into the battle cry of a lifetime.

The star turns her time-proven ability to turn a dancefloor feature into her own club filler on ‘Black Mascara.’, whose heartbroken lyrics are lifted up by genius Punctual production.

There’s little left to be said about the viral ‘Escapism.’ whose staggering online success could’ve happened to any of the album’s singles. Its gluttonous approach to drink and drugs verges on masochism in some of the record’s most startling lines.

Whilst RAYE’s retelling of that record label battle provides some of the album’s best moments, there’s so much more to My 21st Century Blues – the star’s willingness to fight may be a product of that relationship, but after Winehouse-esque ‘The Thrill Is Gone.’ the singer tosses away the meeting room fury and ducks into an underground bar for a one-on-one with the listener.

The first of those conversations comes in ‘Ice Cream Man.’. A jaw-droppingly honest recount of sexual assault in the industry, RAYE coos, “I was 7, 21 was 17 and was 11, it took a while to understand what my consent means, if I was ruthless I’d be in the penitentiary.” It’s one of those tracks thousands will remember exactly what they were doing when it came on.

Meanwhile, ‘Environmental Anxiety.’ sees the star turn political, ‘Worth It.’ is a sunny piece of positivity that echoes greats like Etta James and ‘Buss It Down.’ is the perfect album closer that showcases a woman not defeated.

My 21st Century Blues is turning heads and rightly so. It’s been a long time (if ever) since we’ve heard something like this.

Rating – 5/5

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Written by Toby Bryant

Journalist and pop head.

Follow me on Twitter & Instagram @toby_bryant_.