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?

snowflake

July Playlist

Hello!

How are you doing?

Since COVID-19 came to town, everything you loved about summer has been modified either in a small or bigger way than you expected! It has affected everyone; people hoped it would be done by the time 4th of July came around, but it didn’t and because of that, cities cancelled their annual fairs and displays of large populated areas to watch fireworks in the evenings.

Thankfully, music is still here for us!

I am actually going to do something a little different today. Before I give you my current list of Top 20 songs for the month, I am going to share a brand new track from a singer-songwriter ÊMIA! She messaged me a few months ago, but there have various things going on and we have both been awful about getting back in our emails to each other. However, I finally had time to get everything straighten out enough to be able to promote her new single “Selfish” off of her debut album that is coming soon!


emiajulyplÊMIA is a singer-songwriter and producer (yay for more female producers!) based in New York. In her first email she sent me and said that I might enjoy her music because she is similar to SCVRINA, which pretty much sold me right away! She’s been known to write her songs with as much emotions as possible.

Here is what I thought of her new song!

When I first listened to the song, I did think she sounds like SCVRINA in that soft voice but her tone is what I found to be quite sassy and almost angry tone, which you don’t find too often along with an upbeat pop song! Everyone tries but rarely does it work as good as you think it would! She also reminded me of Madison Beer too, as she has this fierce cat-like type of mood in her music that I love so much! The only thing I didn’t like so much was the music. However, I think if she was to release an acoustic version I would like it better. The tempo would slow down slightly and you would be able to hear the words and feelings towards the subject in question a little more too!  

What do you think of ÊMIA’s new song “Selfish?” 


I don’t know if this will become a trend on here, but I think highlighting a song like this by an artist or band that nobody’s heard before, could be an interesting addition to these monthly playlists. What do you think?

Now let’s go back to our normal routine. If you want to check out the rest of the songs not listed below, you can (hopefully) click here to be transferred to listen to the others. Here are my Top 20 songs in July!

Daisies by Katy Perry
The Game Is Over by Evanescence
Like That by Doja Cat featuring Gucci Mane
My Immortal by Halocence
Control by Zoe Wees
Drinks by Cyn
I Dare You by Kelly Clarkson
Rewind by Krewella x Yellow Claw
Only God Knows by Of Kings & Country featuring Echosmith
Love Me Anyway by P!nk featuring Chris Stapleton

Now usually, I have a much longer amount of songs featured in this playlist and I do, but they are not regular songs! Earlier this month I was able to watch Hamilton. I have been hearing and loving what everyone has been saying about it for the past several years! And of course, I had my favorites too, so here are my top 10 that I just couldn’t get enough to keep to myself!

Satisfied
My Shot
You’ll Be Back
Helpless
What’d I Miss
The Room Where It Happens
Burn
It’s Quiet Uptown
Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story
One Last Time

Before I finish I wanted to let you know there will be a specie music post next Monday! So, please be on the lookout for that. I’m sorry this turned out to be so long but I couldn’t help myself to limiting the amount of music I listened to this month. Before you leave, please tell me what you were loving this month in the comments section below!

snowflake

 

Music Monday | Linda Perry

Hello!

This series is suppose to be about my favorite music producers, people who basically inspired me to study become one in college ten years ago. What I didn’t plan on was second guessing myself on whether or not Linda Perry is a producer. I knew she was a songwriter and musician in her own right, but I wasn’t so sure about the other part. Just before I started writing this post, I finally broke down and checked online to see if she is and everything says she is in face a producer.

Although I wanted everyone to be an established producer in these posts, I felt that in the end, it really didn’t matter if she was or wasn’t. I mostly knew her as a songwriter to artists such as P!nk and Christina Aguilera.

I didn’t write my first song until probably fifth grade, I didn’t even keep it because the words just kind of came at me all of a sudden and I wrote them on a small piece of paper. Some people would think they were poems, but I always found myself correcting everyone that they were songs, but then they would come back and ask if I had any music with it, and I’d say no. As most songwriters, they like to come up with the melody and music before figuring out the lyrics. I was the total opposite, but only by default, I can’t play any instruments and never really wanted to, so maybe they are poems after all!

For most of my middle school years, I was writing songs about what was feeling and going through during my preteen years. I still have folders upon folders of songs I wrote in classes and even at home too. I hardly ever look through them even though I want to keep them safe for later. I don’t quite know what or why I would want to do that because I was more abstract in my words back then; I hardly ever made a song specifically for one person and I definitely never put the person’s name I had in my mind while coming up with the lyrics. I was smart that way I guess!

I remember the first time I ever listened to “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera. I always wished I could be that brave to release all of my emotions into creating something as wonderful as that song. I watched a documentary where Linda was discussing when she worked with her on second album “Stripped” back in 2002, and how she was teaching her how to let go and give herself up to the world and exposing feelings that we all feel at one point or another, and that obviously meant a lot to me in my teen years, leading up to high school. By the time, I became a freshman, I think I stopped writing them, and turned my attention to books. The last one I ever wrote was published on my old blog at the end of 2009 I think.

I do tend to like a person’s music better if they are the lead songwriter. I generally love what Linda has created for other artists, especially female singers. I have a slight obsession with singer-songwriters like Natasha Bedingfield, Halsey, Banks, Phoebe Ryan, Alessia Cara, Charlie Puth and Julia Michaels because I know they all have written songs. I hope one day I can help make my nephew understand why it’s important to start writing in a different platform; whether it’s blogging, bullet journaling, poetry, or songwriting. It’s a important habit to keep.

Have you ever written a song before? If you have, do you remember any specifics about the first one you wrote? Did you keep it? 

snowflake

 

Music Monday | Missy Elliott

Howdy!

When I was thinking about doing the series, I know I wanted to keep it diverse, not because my love of music is all of the place, but it is very important to say that there are women music producers out there. In fact, I decided to talk about two of them that I knew were important to my life and musical journey. However, if you know and love of any other women producers out there, please tell me about them in the comments. I would love to learn more about why you adore them, and of course check out their music too!

A couple of years ago, Missy Elliott was awarded by MTV’s VMAs (Video Music Awards) with the Lifetime Achievement award. Back when MTV did play hours and hours (boy, do I miss those days!) of music videos, you probably saw one or if you were really lucky two Missy Elliott videos within 20-30 minutes of each other. I’d say from 1998 to 2004 is when she was just creating all kinds of stuff. A lot of them included dancing, but she was very known for her crazy antics and style in those days. They all looked fun every single time they appeared on your television screen. I’m sad to say I haven’t seen any of her previous videos, but remembering her others, I know she would continue going down that way for as long as she is allowed.

Missy is most known for her songs and friendship with Timbaland and Aaliyah, but I think it’s important to say that she has worked with all kinds of acts throughout the years! In 2004, when the R&B artist Ciara appeared, especially after watching her first music video for “Goodies” you probably hoped that she’d work with Missy one day. Dancing played a big part in the two artists, but it also just seemed like a great combination because Ciara has that same soft voice that Aaliyah was known for–even though nobody could ever be as good as her–you still hoped that they would work together. So, by the time “1, 2, Step” came out on the radio, it was like the music gods were really hearing our prayers and then it happened again in 2004 with Missy’s track “Lose Control” with Fatman Scoop. It was an awesome sequel to the story of these two big female singers.

Since we’re on the subject of girl power, I think we should discuss the remake of Patti LaBelle’s “Lady Marmalade” of the film Moulin Rouge in early 2002. Instead of having one singer do the entire song, she produced and worked with four powerhouses of the popular genres of that time. You had the R&B artist Mya to start off and then we move on to Pink, who at the time was a mixture of pop-R&B at the time. Brooklyn’s own Queen rapper Lil’ Kim lended a nice section and gave the song an added flare, and finally Christina Aguilera graced us at the end. I still think this is where she began weaning herself out of the cookie cutter bubblegum pop music. The song itself went on to win lots of awards but I think a lot of people either don’t know and/or forget that Missy Elliott was a huge part of making this happen. I mean, think of it as like the first time The Avengers assembled. Yes, I just did that and I’m not even sorry about it either!

Are you a fan of Missy Elliott? Do you have a favorite music video from over the years? Is there any other artists that you think she should consider working or maybe not collaborating with next? Please give me your thoughts about that down in the comments.

snowflake

Album Review: “Singular: Act I” by Sabrina Carpenter

After I did the Little Mix review last week, I wondered how many other albums I missed and wanted to talk about on here. So I have found two more albums, this one and another that came out in December that I will be sharing my thoughts on hopefully next week! First, we are going to talk about my increasing love for Sabrina Carpenter. I know the last name Carpenter is fairly infamous in the music industry, but I don’t think Sabrina has any relations to them. Sabrina is an actress along with being a singer. She’s worked on the Disney Channel on shows like, “Austin & Ally,” “Girl Meets World,” and finally “Adventures In Babysitting.”

I’ve been focused on her singing career than her acting, and it was purely by accident. I caught the end of her song “Thumbs” on the radio and thought it wasn’t bad and within a week later I heard another one called, “Why” and it was just continuous, because the final song I heard in 2018 was “Lost Love” with the EDM group Lost Kings. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of the tracks, so when I saw that she had released a new album back in November, I was like “I need to check this out right now!” So, if you’d like to join me on this little adventure, you’re more than welcome to it.

The first song is “Almost Love” and I liked the cute popping in the beginning. The “cute” factor never really leaves the beat at all, and I think it makes it a bit annoying. A part of me hates it, but yet I’ve heard it so much lately that I’ve been dancing and humming to it, so it’s a good dance-pop song but has some little things that irritate me. We move on to “Paris” and I will be honest, I thought she had redone The Chainsmokers’s single of “Paris” but after I listened to it, I realized I was wrong but I like it anyways. I like the seductive beat and tone of her voice. I think it gives the message a needed edge. I really enjoy it!

Third is “Hold Tight” featuring Uhmeer. I’ve never heard of this person, but I am always open to new artists! This has a R&B sound to it too, which is strange because the album has been said to prominently be pop/EDM. It’s much slower, has a strong sexy vibe going on but I actually like it! I think Uhmeer’s deep voice is a good contrast to Sabrina’s sweet voice. It just added to the “feel good” vibe that was already going on. Next was “Sue Me” and we’re back on the pop train again. Unfortunately, I didn’t really like this one. It seemed really dull compared to the previous tracks. I didn’t even dance to it after the first verse was over and yes, that’s usually my sign that it’s a good song, but there was nothing with this. So, we move on to “Prfct” which is the word: Perfect, but without the vowels. The only reason why I say that out loud because I was so confused writing it out in my notepad. It was one of those days for me! Anyways, this beat is nice and easy. To me, it’s more sensual than the other way around, but I really like it.

We’re heading to the last three songs of the record. The sixth track is “Bad Time” and this only had Sabrina’s voice in the beginning, so it’s a slow start to the beat itself, but when it does appear it’s a nice real pop sound. I was a bit on the fence about it. I liked the sound, but thought it was a bit overwhelming to really hear the lyrics of the song. That is my only complaint with it. “Mona Lisa” is on now and I thought the moment it started, I thought it was a bit unique. I thought it has 00’s bubblegum pop sound to it. It reminded me of Jessica Simpson and Christina Aguilera! Honestly, it was refreshing and it actually became one of my favorites of the bunch! And finally the last song is “Diamonds Are Forever” and I really liked this one too. I thought she kind of sounded like another artist I heard recently: Elley Duhe. This has a sensual beat, but she sings it with such sass that it really makes you like it. At least, it did that for me!

Apparently I had some strong expectations to this effort than I thought I did because a part of me felt a bit let down by it. I was on the fence for about half of the tracks on this record and only had one real favorite out of the whole thing. That’s not like me to be like this, so I’m hoping when she releases Act 2 later this year, it’ll be a little bit better!

Have you listened to Sabrina Carpenter’s new album yet? What did you think of it? Do you love it or hate it?