The track, Moment, is available via:
14th April, 2019
THIS is my very last review request...
that I am taking. From now on, every review I publish is going to be artists I am going after or those in the mainstream. I have been doing the review thing for over seven years and think that, in terms of new artists, I have got all I can from it; there are too many that sound the same and have a very familiar story – or those who do not really have a story at all. Before I head into a different direction and line up some big reviews, I am ending this phase of reviewing with Lauren Ray. I have encountered her music before and, when thinking about her latest single, a few things come to mind. I will write about those who have a familiar story regarding song inspiration but are able to add something; a voice that can stand out and gets inside the mind; artists who develop and grow through time and looking at the types of sounds that will define 2019; why women are in a stronger position in terms of material and where Lauren Ray can go next. Apologies to revisit ground but, with regards upcoming artists, it is often the way one will sort of cover the same thing. In terms of Lauren Ray’s latest single, Moment, there are a lot of threads that I have seen in other songs. Don’t get me wrong, that is all fine and good. In terms of the lyrical themes, there is about the fragility of our lives and the importance of living for the moment. It is nice that there is something more positive coming out in music because, more often than not, I am encountering stuff that is quite gloomy. I think one of the reasons I have transferred from the underground artists to the bigger acts is because, when I reviewed JARV IS… yesterday, there was a song about evolving and being stubborn in a modern world.
Newer artists tend to concentrate more on themes like love and personal struggle and it can be harder to find unique spin and ambition. I have faced a lot of songs where the theme is the same and the artist’s backstory is identical – that can make it hard to fill the page and come up with something fresh. Luckily, as I bow out, Lauren Ray has managed to provide a song that adds new perspective to a familiar subject. I do like the fact she is talking about positivity and the support of others in music. Too many songs I have encountered tend to look more at the struggle in life and how bleak things are. There is an earnestness in her latest release that provides thanks to those who have helped her and knows that she gives love to her family because they have backed her all of the way. What differentiates Lauren Ray from the rest of the herd is the fact she has a very distinct voice and her lyrics come from a very personal place. In that sense, she is not trying to fit in with the rest of music and follow the mainstream. So many artists copy what is out there because they feel that is the way to be popular and get attention. Ray is someone who can address something that is common to many of us and provide a fresh angle and voice. It is exciting to hear the song unfold because you know she is putting her all into it and every word means a lot to her. I do hate when artists write something that means nothing to them or seems to be an attempt to get radio attention. You can tell when there is insincerity but, in the case of Ray, she writes from the heart and, to her, music is a way of getting out her feelings and expressing herself. I shall move on but, as this is my last review of a particular kind, there is something I need to cover. I have talked about voices before but there is something unique to Lauren Ray.
Many will say that voices can never be truly standout and unique because there is always someone who sounds a little bit like someone else. When you listen to Lauren Ray, there are little bits of others; her music idols and those she grew up around. You listen carefully and you can tell that Ray is not trying to copy anyone else out there. As Moment unwinds and you get more involved with the music, you can detect all these colours and shades that you did not notice before. It is wonderful listening to a song and hearing all these various aspects unfolding and coming to the light. I am not sure whether Ray tackled Moment in a number of ways before getting the final take but that brings me to another thought. I have not really covered takes and the studio process but it comes to mind when thinking about Ray. The final vocal we have for her single sounds great and, with such a range and power, I do wonder whether the song went through various different iterations. Such is the emotion being carried and the depth of feeling, one thinks that it must have been a case of trying out various vocal styles out and seeing which one fit. Maybe she did have a vocal in mind from the start but you listen to Moment and I wonder whether there were earlier versions that are very different to the song we hear. However the song came to life and evolved, you listen to the vocal on it and are amazed. There is clearly a lot of power and commitment and many have highlighted a huskiness and raw element. You get that coming through but there is sweetness and passion mixing together. Ray is an artist who has always been able to provide beauty and power in her song but I do think she is getting stronger and more confident as a singer and writer. In a world of music where there are so many sound-alike singers, it is nice to discover someone who does things her own way.
Another thing that impresses me regarding Lauren Ray’s voice is that she seems to make us all feel better about ourselves. I have listened to some of her older songs and you get a real emotional hit and potency that gets into the bones. Even though Moment is quite emotional and personal, you do hear it and there is a certain weight lifted from the shoulders. Maybe it is the meaning of the words and how they can apply to all of us but, in a deeper sense, it is what Ray does with her voice and how she brings the words to life that gets to me. So many artists tend to go through the motions and you can tell their hearts are not really in it. That is not true with Lauren Ray. She has written this song that is a way of paying thanks and looking at what she has been through but, in a wider sense, she is writing for other people who know how fragile life is. I am not normally a fan of anxiety and darker elements of life conveyed through music – it seems to dominate now and a lot of fun has disappeared – but, if you can deliver a song like that and make the listener feel better, then there is something to be said. I return to Lauren Ray’s voice and how intriguing it is. I have seen it expand and strengthen since her earlier work and she is able to provide so many nuances. I do wonder where the songwriter will go next and what she has in store for the future. It seems that, with every song, something new is added and her confidence levels increase. When thinking about how strong she sounds now, one must go back a bit and see where Ray has come from; how her music has developed through time and why she has made those changes. Moment signifies a bit of a change of direction from the lauded artist.
Now, on Moment, Lauren Ray is heading more into a Pop direction. It is not that she is aiming for chart glory or anything like that but there is a different tone coming into her word. At heart, she is still an artist that writes from the soul but there is more kick and colour in her music than ever before. With production from Julian Emery (who has worked with Lissie) and mixing by Cenzo Townsend (who has worked with U2), you can hear Ray moving in a slightly new way. That distinct and exceptional voice is still there but one gets more of a Pop vibe. I do like the fact that, despite tackling something a bit tough and personal, you do not feel gloomy or oppressed by layers of production and processing. So many Pop artists provide a fake and rather grating sound but Lauren Ray always sounds natural and ensures her songs make the listener feel richer and better. Her 2016 album, We Will Need Courage, contained some great songs but there was more of an Adult Contemporary/Singer-Songwriter vibe. Now, a few years down the line, Ray has added a different production sound and taking her music somewhere new. It is hard to signify what caused this change but I feel like, in the past, Ray was inspired by certain sounds and motives and now things are different. She has entered a new phase of her career and there is that need to attempt something new. I like Moment because you know instantly it is a Lauren Ray song but there is a difference that stands out. Her music sounds bigger and her voice has more depth than ever before. I have already mentioned her vocal brilliance and I think touring and the passing of time has really strengthened it. If anything, Ray sounds at her most natural and comfortable right now. I wonder where she will head from here and whether her next album will be more of a Pop affair.
I will end by talking about why Ray can go a long way and why this year will be an exciting one for her. Right now, I want to look at women in music and why they warrant more attention. I have talked about this a lot and I think it deserves another outing. I keep talking about how strong women are in music and why they do not get the attention that is earned. It seems amazing that there is so little progress and respect considering the quality of the artists out there. The best artists of this year are women and the finest albums released have also been from women. It is no shock that this should happen because I think there is a determination to get the respect they deserve and people to take note. In terms of sheer variety and impact, women are leading the field right now. This is true of genres like Pop and Singer-Songwriter. Look at Lauren Ray and the music she is putting out right now is far more exciting and intelligent than a lot of her male peers. In any case, I do feel that women warrant a lot more acclaim and opportunity than they are getting. I think they are much more stirring and accomplished when it comes to talking about bigger themes and more emotional subjects. By that, they can talk about struggles and the capriciousness of life better than men; articulate a sense of hope and strength against the tide like nobody else. Maybe that is a generalisation but I do think the music being made by women is a lot more exciting and stronger than that from the men. Does this mean that we will get equality in the coming years? With artists like Lauren Ray putting out great work, I feel like the industry does need to wake up and take note. Festivals are still dreadfully unbalanced and there are very few female headliners being featured.
It paints a very bad picture and one might think this reality is because male artists are a lot better than women. I think women are in a great position to make a charge and show why festival organisers are lacking foresight. Maybe it will take a while for practices to change but I do hope that the great female artists of the moment are given chances and we can see equality soon. I am always on the lookout for future stars and artists who will be around for a very long time. Music is so packed and competitive that it can be very hard to see who will make it and those that will only be around for a little bit. In the case of Lauren Ray, she is someone who will endure and be making music for a long time yet. She is moving more in a Pop direction and I think that is a sound that is very popular this year. That may sound silly as Pop is always popular but there is a new, more natural sound of Pop that is coming through. We still have artists who are processed and sound machine-fed but there are some terrific Pop artists who are letting their voice shine naturally and writing songs with a lot more feeling and personal relevance. Rather than listen to very commercial music with no heart, I do think people could do well to embrace artists like Lauren Ray. I think she is a lot more compelling and real than a lot of artists out there and her music stays in the head a lot longer. I think there will be a lot of people discovering Ray now who might have missed what she produced a few years back. I would suggest that people go back and check out her older work and then come to the present. You can feel the changes and, whilst she was stunning at the start, there is even more quality and passion in her music now. This rate of progression means that she will grow stronger and, who knows, maybe make it to the mainstream before too long. I shall move on to review Moment now because I have talked a lot about Lauren Ray and, I hope, covered most of the bases needed. It is great to hear new music from her and every song paints a different picture. Moment is an especially strong song that will appeal to her existing fans and bring new ones on board.
Moment starts with a sense of calm and control. Rather than race in with beats and electronics, there is a grace and gentle touch that allows Lauren Ray to enter with tenderness and focus. She talks about someone who used to say that lives are so fragile that they can float away. It seems that, now or in the past, there was a lot of trouble swirling or the heroine was in a more fragile mindset. Perhaps she is referring to life in general and something we all encounter. As the song goes on, I get the impression Ray is talking about her family and what they have said to her. They are saying that life will be okay and things will get better. Perhaps the heroine was in a bad place and experienced heartache but, after support and guiding words, she has redressed the balance and reassessed life. When the chorus comes in, we do get a taut and tight beat that adds punch and kick to the song. Ray gives thanks to those who have helped her and provided these encouraging words. When things are bad and when we feel awful, there is someone there who can help us through and make us see the positives. The heroine gives thanks and praise to those who have helped her through tough times and made her feel better. I can hear a difference in Moment that is a more Pop-orientated sound. Perhaps fresher and more energetic than her previous work, Ray seems comfortable in this new direction. Rather than load her new song with production layers and needless sounds, you still get the voice coming to the front and there is plenty of room for manoeuvre. One can interpret Moment in a variety of ways. There is the one impression gets regarding family and the fact Ray has seen some bleak times and has been helped through. One can also interpret the song as a paen to affirmation and how Ray has given the love back to those who have guided her.
You spin through Moment a few times and pick up fresh things every time. On the first listen, it is a bright and sparking song that has a definite smile but, the more you listen, new emotions and aspects come through. The catchiness of Moment is instant but, deeper than that, Lauren Ray delivers one of her best vocals to date. This is Lauren Ray looking for love and want to feel better. She provides wordless vocals that gives the song new strength and, when listening to the composition, the players help augment the words and provide their own emotions. It is a song that seems simple on the surface but is actually more complex than that. A classic Pop sound comes through that reminds one of the 1980s and 1990s. The heroine is not trying to made us sad and produce something that is anguished and pained: instead, she has penned this song that gets you in a better frame of mind and definitely sticks around in the brain. All great Pop songs should have substance and life but they also need to be pretty accessible and catchy. It is a hard balance to pull off but Lauren Ray has managed it. You will listen back a few times because it provides release and sounds great. Maybe one can compare her to a few artists in the mainstream but I think Ray’s voice is more soulful and interesting than a lot of artists of the moment. It has Blues and Country aspects that makes the music a lot stronger. So many singers are limited regarding range and emotions but Lauren Ray has a great range. She is masterful when it comes to penning songs that everyone can relate to but have that distinctly personal aspect. I know there is an album arriving and I wonder, when Woman in the Arena comes, we will see more songs like this. I do think that the music industry needs artists who can bring some fun and energy back to the fore. This does not mean they should abandon more serious subjects and personal matters but, as Lauren Ray has shown, you can balance the two without having to compromise at all. I can see how she has come on as an artist and I am excited to see just how far she can go. If you need to be cheered and want a great song that bounces around the brain then check out Moment. It is a marvellous song and one that proves Lauren Ray is among the most alluring and strong new artists around. I do think she can take music by storm and has a very bright future ahead indeed.
This is the last review, as I say, that I am taking from other people – I will be going my own way from now on but it has been good helping rising artists and digging their music. One reason I took this review was that it would coincide with Ray’s album, Woman in the Arena. I was told that the album was out this month but it seems like it has been pushed back a bit. I am not sure what happened and what date the record will be released but make sure you keep an eye out for it. Another reason why I am moving on in terms of reviews is because, quite often, I get approached with songs that have been out for a while and one prefers to review stuff that is fresh. When it comes to Lauren Ray, I actually think the fact there is an album coming down the tracks means it is okay to review Moment – which has been in the world for a few weeks now. It is a great song and one that marks her out as a very big talent. Apologies if I have covered old ground and repeated myself but, as I said, it can be hard adding something hefty to a review when artists are new and you do not know them as well as bigger artists. I would recommend people check out Lauren Ray and see what she is about. I love her music and cannot wait to hear her forthcoming album. Check out her social media pages and keep abreast of where is going. Already, Ray has supported the likes of Rebecca Ferguson and Lucy Spraggan and she has been on the road with Paul Carrack. She plays at Cornbury Festival 2019 on 5th, 6th and 7th July and she is at Penn Fest on 19th July. There is a lot going on at the moment so do make sure you follow Ray and go and see her if you can.
Moment is a terrific song and many will be looking forward to seeing what is happening regarding Woman in the Arena. It has been a few years since her last albums and she has many new stories to tell. The fact Ray has performed a lot and done some big gigs means that confidence will come into the album and the performances, I feel, will be more assured and confident. You get that valuable experience from the stage and can then bring that into the studio. I shall leave this review by saying thanks to those I have reviewed through the years and, whilst I will still review slightly smaller artists, I am mainly focusing on those who are either in the mainstream or close to it; some that are starting out but I am being very selective. I am stopping interviews in a couple of weeks and, again, going after bigger artists. The reason I can do that and get my work out to people is because of artists approaching and those that are in the earlier stages. Without them, I would not be able to get anywhere at all and would struggle to get my work seen. I have a lot to thank them for and it has been great featuring some great artists since 2011. I will continue on but leave behind a certain sector of music that, I’m sure, will be fine without me. My last review of this sort is with Lauren Ray and I would recommend you keep an eye out as I know she will go pretty far. There is a realness and honesty about her music and there are few voices as appealing and resonant than hers. She is an artist that is a complete package and will appeal to those who love their music with more heart and wisdom than frothy and juvenile. Moment is a terrific song that announces a new sonic direction and it works really well. I have seen Lauren Ray grow and step on as an artist and, when you see how far she has come, you get the feeling that here is someone who can…
GO very far in the industry.
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