Album Review: “SIGN from Above” by RAIGN

Hello!

I have heard of bloggers encouraging others to update older posts over the years, but I just chose to ignore them because I think it’s best to keep them the same to allow yourself to see where you were and as you continue to grow as both a blogger and writer. I have never said I am a perfect writer in the past, and hope people respect me on that subject.

However, I am here once again, because I found out that British alternative-pop singer RAIGN (ray-gen) has come back with an even bigger surprise for us fans, and that is, she re-released her 2018 album, “SIGN” late in October; the album has a new title as well the addition of nine other songs! It is now called, “Sign From Above” and I thought instead of re-writing the previous songs, how about I just add onto the first post. So below is everything I wrote about Raign and the album back then, while the newer material is below divided by a line to hopefully keep everything in line so nobody gets confused. I seriously hope you enjoy the album experience and what I’ve written as far as the review.


Back in January, British singer-songwriter RAIGN released her extended play “Born Again” and I put out a review of it on here about a month later. Now I’m back to talk about her debut album that came out in mid-September. It is called “Sign” and even though I kept seeing a couple of singles pop up on the new music tab on Spotify, I did not expect this at all! Despite only really listening to one single before working on this, I didn’t know what I was getting into but I was open to new sounds and some of the familiar stuff that made me fall in love with her music in the first place.

The album itself consists of 12 songs, which is standard for any musician but also with that amount, means you can hear a wider range of her style. I am hoping for an eclectic mix as I continue down the list of tracks. So, let’s start!

We begin with an introduction, “Sign” and it’s an instrumental start to the album. It has a dreamy quality to it as it’s soft but haunting too. I really like hearing the orchestra build up and sound like the second song “Out Of Time”. This song has a completely different tone, as it has a pop-rock sound which wasn’t something that I expected but I actually liked it! It’s something we haven’t heard from her yet and I thought it was perfect to break that barrier so early in the album. Next we have “Who Are You” and it has that familiar mysterious vibe playing throughout it. It’s very powerful but in a way gentle too!

We move on to “God Only Knows” and what I really like about this one was the fact that it started off in this soft way, with only her echo-y but deep voice and a light epic drumming in the background. It was so beautiful to only have those elements, before adding the orchestra back in too. The fourth track “Into Heaven Alone” has a melancholy sound but it does have a rock-y vibe on top of that cinematic beat, it’s not an overwhelming. I liked the uniqueness it gave the song! I feel the next song “Inside Of Me” has this motivational statement to make, as it gave you the strength to get through whatever is bothering you at that moment. The beat itself was strong in terms of matching the emotions and lyrics to the song, but it was also really light too. It was a nice balance.

When we first started the album, we had a nice epic intro with “Sign” but for the sixth track, it is the vocal version of the actual song. It still has this gentleness about it, but now that we are hearing the words along with the ominous ballad of violins, bells and of course Raign’s deep voice. It will take you away into a magical place whenever you listen to it, at least that’s what it did for me. I felt like I was walking in a snow-y, forest wonderland, I love it when music can do that in a matter of three minutes! Next, there’s “Calling” and this has another interesting quality. At first, I thought it was going to continue what we heard in the last song. I’m hearing more pop-y notes in the beat, it still has that cinematic sound in it, but it is very mild so you can hear them both at the same time. It is a cool song.

We are on the last four songs. “Hold On To The Sky” is kind of tame, almost dreamy in a way. One way to explain it, is if you were in a deep amount of water. Your body is weightless so dancing inside is a breeze. If this was a song, this would be it. I’m sorry for the weird metaphor, but that’s what I instantly thought of when it started playing! Next there’s “Find My Own Way” and this has a sexy beat behind it. It keeps you on your toes because it’s a somewhat simple song, but there’s that underling feeling you could be surprised soon. It was a pleasing track and probably one of my favorites out of the whole thing.

I was really curious about the eleventh song and final track because the titles seem so easy to figure out, I just hoped I wouldn’t get disappointed in the end. However, “Sunrise” starts with this very loud bass boom and then her voice gets echo-y and the beat itself builds into the monstrous beast. As it continues, Raign basically stays the same as far as tempo goes, but I’m glad she’s like that because the dynamic between these two makes it that much better. It has an edge, a jaggered edge that makes it powerful! Finally, we end with “Evergreen” and after the previous one, I was a little worried but thankfully it was at the same vibe, but I think I fell in love with the lyrics a lot faster than I did with “Sunrise”, plus it has a happier beat. It had a motivated outlook on it, but everything about it was inviting to me, and it made me like I could do anything so I was thinking of good things rather than the negative and that’s what I like the most about it.

One of my favorite things to do now whenever I watch a movie or television show, is that I keep an eye out for the music being played on a certain scene. When The Vampire Diaries started playing Raign’s music throughout the last four or five seasons, I did not expect to still crave her music but I do! I think she has a gorgeous voice and the beats she uses to showcase it, make me extremely happy! Raign was at the forefront of my taste for cinematic music, and I deeply encourage you to check out some of her songs! This album gave me feeling after feeling, and although I tend to listen to her music whenever I’m sad, I was happy listening to all the way through and for that to happen rarely works anymore.


After the last song of the original lineup, we start again with “Causing Love” and this was initially released in 2019 and I do remember listening to it, but overall it’s been a while since I’ve heard her music but I instantly remembered what I enjoyed the most, her voice. It is semi-deep and raspy, but adds an extra edge to her style of music that brings out a positive and dark side to her songs. As far as this song goes, it is absolutely beautiful! You can feel the love rushes out of your speakers, and I really enjoyed that guitar solo along with her high notes echoing in the background at the end. The next song has that darker vibe I love the most, at least the introduction has this as it builds into a bigger picture full of various pictures. This song is called, “Things Can Only Get Better” and as much as I like the cinematic take, I kind of wished it kept that base sound, it almost gave it a country vide especially in the way she is singing it, it definitely could have worked out greatly without the symphony in the background. It’s an interesting combination!

Our third track is, “Now I Can Fly” which is totally different to the others I’ve heard so far. The poppy drums in the beginning was a nice surprise, and I feel like this could be a great Monday motivational song, especially with all of the anxiety and worry that life has brought to a good chunk of people nowadays! I liked the boost of energy and message in the lyrics, it’s clear this is a happy song! Now, I don’t know how we got on the Christmas-y train, but okeydokey! This is “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” and this is absolutely gorgeous! It has that nostalgic sound you would normally hear in churches and/or orchestra, I was really pulled into it at the sound of the banged bells that flicker throughout the song. Raign doesn’t have that traditional voice you would hear in carols but I thought it was cool to not only hear, but see something different come out of that type of music.

As far the next three songs, they are new versions of the songs mentioned above in my original post. The fourth is an orchestra take on “Who We Are” and of course I adore anything–well, apparently, almost anything as we’ve uncovered in the previous paragraph!–with a symphony sound to it, and I’m shocked to say I still like the other way more! Although I do like her transitions on the high pitched notes at the end of the courses, but that’s all I really like about it. “Out Of Time” was actually #2 and since I’ve only heard her cinematic finished songs, this was a lovely surprise. I loved the acoustic switch of this, as much as I love the majestic and powerful sound of a full orchestra, some days I like stripped down type of music and this was so good!

“Into Heaven Alone” is on now and we are back on the orchestral sound, but honestly it is milder than what I was expecting it to be right out of the gate. It has a nice mixture of a slower acoustic-orchestral session. I have heard other artists and bands do this before, but I’ve always felt some were too chaotic to include both styles for one song, but I did like this one. I wasn’t into it at first, but as it ended, the sound mellowed out and it was really nice.

We are at the final two songs: “Walls” was another track that was released sometime in 2019, this one I never got a chance to hearing because I didn’t “follow” her on my Spotify yet so I missed out on the actual time and date of when it came out. Anyways, it has a dance-y beat to it in the beginning and then quiets down when Raign starts to speak, but I enjoyed this one. I think this one is a favorite, but I kind of wished she was singing more because I felt as though it was more circled around the music itself, which I seemed to notice a distinct electronica vibe going on with this one. I liked it quite a bit so obviously, I didn’t mind it that much! And the last song, is another version of “Causing Love” and it includes the Millionaire London Orchestra and unlike my comments about the orchestral take on “Who We Are” this one is pretty good! I like the sadness of the violins and what I was feeling in the other one, is more inflamed and very exciting!

A part of me figured the newer songs were going to somewhat stay within the original sound but I had hoped for more diversity, because as much as I love this style and grace of music Raign does, I want to see what else she can bring to the table too. So, a part of me wonders if she is planning on releasing any more music in the near future. I mean, 2021 is right around the corner and it has me thinking of changes and more music, so maybe she has been experimenting with other genres, or want to go into acoustic even more after putting “Out Of Line” on here like this, maybe these are clues and she isn’t necessarily finished with us yet.

Of course, I could be absolutely wrong and this is only just one present to her fans. I would be okay with that, but I am always wondering about the people I listen to on the radio, Spotify and YouTube, you just never know what’s going on, until it comes out finally! So, we’ll see what happens as we cross the new year bridge next month.

Have you heard of RAIGN’s newest edition of her album yet? Do you have any favorites? If I wasn’t the one to introduce you to her music, how did you find her?

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Album Review: “III” by BANKS

Today I am finally going to talk about BANKS! Sometimes it can be harder to talk about your favorite artists than it is for newer artists, at least it has been for me! You see, I’ve tried in the past to review her previous album The Altar back in 2017 but I just could not get myself to do it and I’ve been kicking myself ever since! So, for this post I am basically conquering my fear and discussing what I like or maybe dislike about this album.

I actually didn’t know she was going to put out an album until a whole bunch of songs on YouTube and I thought, “well, this is strange!” So, I went on her Facebook page and quickly figured it out. This record has thirteen tracks with only one that credits another artist and/or band, but we’ll get to that in a minute,. I have only heard probably three or four songs but the rest I have saved for you guys, because you know how much I like to express my thoughts during that first listening. I hope you enjoy the rest of this post. Let’s get to it!

The first song we have is “Till Now” and I think everyone will agree with me on forgetting that the actual word “till” is spelled with 2 “L’s” the fact that Google and everybody else in the world has no problem with leaving it with one is fine. However, it is nice to be reminded of that every once in a while. Anyways, when the song first started it actually made me think of another song of hers “Better” because it was pretty empty with only her vocalizations in the background but the one difference with this is that it sounds more upbeat. Towards the ending it sound really static-y and I was really concerned that it was my speaker but her vocals never changed so I let it go. I really liked it, just wish it wasn’t so short though!

Next we have the first single, “Gimme” and I loved this from the moment it was released! I really approve of her seductive side coming out in this song. I have a really tough time not dancing to this and that’s what made me fall in love with it first, because it just has this great meaty beat to move to. It was an awesome little taste of what was to come next. The third track is “Contaminated” and we have continued on this mysterious train with the beat itself. Even though it does have darker notes, it also has these sweet vibes going through it as well. I can’t quite explain it, maybe it’s the undertone of the song that I’m feeling but I liked it!

We move on to “Stroke” and the first thing that popped into my mind when I saw the title was the word “heatstroke” I don’t know about my brain sometimes. The song is on a totally different level that what we’ve heard from her; she’s given us everything I thought until I heard this one. The bass on it is amazing! If you know me well enough, you know I have a slight obsession with bass. I may not jam as loud as I use to, but I still love to feel the bass on a speaker. By the way, you read that right. I said feel instead of hear. One thing that I really like about it is that once you get to the bridge, the sound changes and you have this almost jazz-y worthy type of beat going on for a bit and what really gets me is that it all works really nicely!

“Godless” is next and I love that her vocals are soft, really sensual this time around. It is still sexy in every sense of the word but it’s not as overwhelming as the last track–and I mean that in the best way possible! I just like how everything about the song is milder. It is a nice change, but it isn’t anything like the next song: “Sawzall” as this has a true acoustic feel. You can hear everything individually, and it’s wonderful. I love her dark-alternative music but it is amazing to hear her as naturally as possible. These two songs really surprised on how different they could be, compared the rest of her music.

We move on to “Look What You’re Doing To Me” and this is, dare I say, very cheery and playful! This is the song that features another artist, it is Francis & The Lights. I have never heard of them before but I really enjoyed the subtle way they came into the track. So far, this is the only one that sound like a regular R&B song, although it still has the essence of what we all love about BANKS, but thanks to adding another voice, it has an edge compared to the others. Unfortunately, it isn’t one of my favorites but it’s still pretty good though!

Next we have “Hawaiian Mazes” and I really loved the quiet introduction. It was just a sweet kiss. The tempo stays very mellow throughout the whole thing. The “uh, uh, uhs” are also nice too, the whole thing brings out a sensual vibe. Perfect for the summertime! After that, we travel to “Alaska” basically. I thought it was interesting that we had these back-to-back. As the last one was very chill, this is fun and mild beat wise. It has a nice groove to dance to, and has a unique flare to it. The recent song that I allowed myself to hear was “Propaganda” and I thought it was great! I really think it has more of a House feeling going on, it does match the other two with the lightness of the beat, but thankfully all of them have something to make them different from each other.

“The Fall” is the one of the three tracks left on the album. This one threw me for a loop. While you listen to the verses, the beat is very gentle, almost relaxing in a way. After the last few songs, it shouldn’t really surprise you that this could happen, but once you get the chorus, it explodes. Suddenly, you feel this fierce tone and if I’m not mistaken, she’s rapping towards the end? Yummy! We have “If We Were Made Out Of Water” and I love the sounds of birds in the beginning. When you first hear them, you kind of think that it’s going to be a happy song but it’s not. It’s rather sad, especially when you read the lyrics along, you feel like you could cry. despite this, I think it’s one of my favorites! We are at “What About Love” which is the final song. I really enjoyed the bluesy, but gospel sound going on. It does a bittersweet tone, but I like how simple it was; kind of the perfect way to end the story.

I will be honest when I say, I have yet to actually listen to any of BANKS’ albums all the way through, and this was the main reason why I wanted to review her last record because I knew I wouldn’t without having a reason to do so. However, because of this too, I was very hesitant to review it at all. I am normally very picky with her music so going into this was a bit scary for me, but everything is fine. I actually loved it!

I can’t say her music has changed, I don’t feel like I can say that officially, but it hit my needs as to start on a high note and end kind of softly. For an album like this, a summer record basically, it wasn’t overwhelming with tropical sounds and full of sex, although it does have a bit of it on here, but it’s pleasant. You finally get to hear her voice and raw emotions as the album continues on. The lyrics are different, certain words that maybe you wouldn’t expect to be in a song. It was a unique experience, that’s all I can say!

Have you listened to BANKS’ new album III yet? What did you love it or not liked it as much? What were your favorites? Put your answers below in the comments!

Album Review: “Infections Of A Different Kind (Step 1)” By AURORA

review2017This will hopefully be my last album review to have come out in the month of September! I am so excited to talk about this new release though, I love Aurora a lot. She is an interesting artist, she has a beautiful voice and the music she creates is usually right up my alley. If it’s not too much to say this, she’s like the Scandinavian version of Ellie Goulding! The reason why I say that is because they both have similar styles but I think Aurora brings out more emotion than Ellie, but of course that’s my opinion!

When I realized she had a new album out, I was really curious on what the “Step 1” meant at the end of the title. Does that mean, we’ll be getting another release or more in 2019? Technically, what I’m reviewing fits the normal standards of an extended play, as it only consists of eight tracks, but the songs themselves are all fairly long in length so maybe that’s the reason why it is called an album instead. I guess we’ll have to see later on what it all means.

We start off with her first single “Queendom” and I absolutely adore this song so much! I find it really empowering, but also it has like an unique take of what we think how fairy tales should sound like in a way too. It breaks out of the norm and the music makes it sound really fun and there’s no way you’re able to stop dancing or singing along to it. Next is “Forgotten Love” and the beginning started off softly but it grew a little in the tempo and became a bit upbeat during the choruses. I like the fast drumming, it gave the whole another edge. It went from this little frail thing into something stronger, but it wasn’t overwhelming, it was still very gentle like falling snow and dancing in it afterwards.

Third is “Gentle Earthquakes” and I’m not going to lie, but I kind of fell in love with the title first. The introduction is somewhat mysterious, you hear a statically voice in the background in the first two seconds before hearing Aurora’s voice coming forth, The broken voice stays throughout the song, so it adds another curious element. What I really enjoyed was once you got to the choruses, her voice would become very sharp and powerful against the pop-y beat. There’s a lot in this song, but it does sound like a gentle earthquake to me. No pun intended! We move onto “All Is Soft Inside” and the first thing you hear are these different bells, they’re in different pitches but they give a sort of exotic vibe to the song. I also love the usage of the orchestra in the background as well, I think it plays well in the story of the track. I’s all so good as it has this dreamy environment with all of these different sounds and tempos, I think it may turn into a favorite of mine!

Everytime I see this track “It Happened Quiet” I always want to put an “ly” at the end because it doesn’t make sense this way! Anyways, it’s not my song so I’ll just shut up. This has a gorgeous beginning with only a harp. It’s one of my favorite classical instruments ever. I think it’s very graceful and matches well with Aurora’s voice, but this is very quiet song, you can finally hear her at her finest without any interruptions. This is loving and sweet, ugh! I really can’t get enough of it! Next there’s “Churchyard” and I was wondering about this one too. When it starts out, she sings the words in a capella monotone type of way. This has a real gospel feel to it, because of the male choir in the background but the beat changes after a while into this synth-drum beast. The only way I feel like I can describe it is like how Madonna’s song used to sound in the 1990’s! It just has that type of vibe to it and even I thought it was strange, but I say that in a good way!

“Soft Universe” is another track that has an exotic take but the sound as a whole is actually pretty gentle. Although those high pitched “bam-bam” drums you hear throughout give it another layer, it still retains that softness but they also give it a fun edge to it too. I like the dark electronica feel it has, it’s just good! And last but not least, we have the title track “Infections Of A Different Kind” and I really enjoy hearing only her faint voice peeking over the piano in the background. I think the song in itself is very moving but while the song played out, I kept seeing a ballerina dancing elegantly in a studio full of mirrors in her light pink tutu, she looks so beautiful telling her story along with it. It’s that kind of song to see a prima ballerina dancing her best to something like this.

I have to say, I’ve listened to a lot of music over the years, but nothing has ever made me seen so many beautiful images before. I kept seeing different scenery like country sides covered with blankets of snow and then various types of dancers expressing themselves in such a neat way. Aurora has that way about her. She is just at one with music that there is hardly a separation between them. I have to say, not many musicians can do that nowadays! This was the purest sound I’ve found in a really long time. If she does plan on releasing anything else, I hope they sound a bit like this, if not better!

Have you heard of AURORA’s new album “Infections Of A Different Kind” yet? What was your favorite thing about it? Is there a song you love the most?

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