The Southern strains in RĀI’s musical presentation are all but inaudible, but that doesn’t mean a long tradition in multiple styles doesn’t influence every musical move we hear on his new single “Back to Life”. The R&B/soul influences in his singing and songwriting are heard much more strongly than any other aspect and the strength of that sound is reflected in the groove that’s the chief distinguishing factor of the arrangement and his deeply emotive vocals. The lyrical message of “Back to Life” has a more personal touch than we’re accustomed to hearing from modern exponents of this style, but they are conversational and accessible rather affecting any sort of airs. The words, likewise, fulfill his avowed mission of bringing an inspiring and uplifting message to the masses with his music and what this means to him comes through in every line he sings.
Despite the essentially optimistic nature of the song’s lyrics, there’s a certain melancholy or wistfulness in RĀI’s singing that clearly shows lessons learned. He has emerged from those lessons, however, wiser, tempered by experience, and filled with immense gratitude. There’s a multitude of emotions swirling through this song, some suggested, while others are strongly put over. The vocal is the center of this emotiveness and he builds it in such a way that it fluidly moves alongside the arrangement rather than deriving its tension from being juxtaposed against the music. RĀI isn’t attempting to dominate this song in any way – instead, the attentiveness and thought he puts into the singing comes together very nicely with his passion to make the performance truly transformative in a way few vocals are. His phrasing, likewise, achieves a level of intimacy that makes the listener feel like he’s singing to them alone and that makes for a very special moment hearing this song.
The musical backing may disappoint those who love live musicians, but it is a rewarding effort if you can put any possible biases aside long enough to appreciate it. It primarily hinges on a mix of perfectly placed percussion alongside a small assortment of synthesizer and keyboard lines that are warm and colorful. There’s a great groove laid down despite the electronic nature of these instruments and it gives RĀI a solid foundation for him to envelop listeners with his vocal magic. This South Carolina based singer/songwriter has the sort of developing talent we haven’t heard emerge from the modern soul and R&B scene in quite some time. “Back to Life” has a lot to recommend to listeners and has the kind of widespread appeal that ensures casual and devoted music fans alike will enjoy its virtues. When the book on RĀI’s successful career to come is finally closed, we’ll undoubtedly be able to point to this single as one of the turning points that brought him the attention he so richly deserves. Get connected with this song today.