The Observer/Time Out’s Isa Jaward on Jordan Rakei’s Wallflower
YouTube ‘rabbit hole’ sessions can take you to strange and often wonderful places. An afternoon some years ago spent clicking through some rather questionable “Recommended” videos fortunately led me to the music of Jordan Rakei, an exceptionally talented 25-year-old multi-instrumentalist and singer from New Zealand.
Now based in London, Rakei is part of a new wave of jazz/soul/hip-hop artists including Tom Misch and Loyle Carner who’ve formed a community in the capital.
Rakei has had, unsurprisingly, a fairly rapid career trajectory, starting from low-key pub performances in Brisbane, Australia to working with Disclosure, Nao and Fat Freddy’s Drop, and, most recently, getting signed to Ninja Tune.
It hasn’t been all plain sailing, though. Rakei has struggled with social anxiety and low self-esteem, both of which fuel his second LP, Wallflower (out September 22). Name aside, it’s anything but timid and reserved.
Sitting in the sweet spot between R&B, soul and jazz, the album offers one gorgeous track after another, each laden with lush textures, layered vocals and soulful, belt-out-in-the-shower melodies.
In addition to his warm, mellow vocals, he writes, sings and handles most of the instrumentation. If these musical polymath abilities don’t impress you, I don’t know what will.
After a somewhat dry summer for exciting album releases, Rakei’s hard-to-fault record can’t come soon enough.
Isa Jaward (@isajaward)
Journalist, The Observer, Time Out