Raven by Kelela is a long anticipated, worth waiting for sensation. And it is just that, sensational. The album has a balance of moody, slow burners intertwined with drum and bass fusion rhythms that keep an engaging pace. The signature track Raven builds up through trance inducing synths and ethereal vocals. My personal favorite track is On the Run, a love song for the ages. The track has a sensual minimal feel to it that’s reminiscent of late 90’s RnB while holding true to a very modern and relevant pop feel. The next track Missed Call sounds like the rhythm belongs right in the early days of Y2K. There is a continuation of drum and bass fusion in a lot of the album but Missed Call brings it back to the early oughts with spoken word bridges and sprinkles of acoustic guitar.
The greatest throughline in the album is absolutely Kelela’s vocal performance. Her vocals remain hauntingly beautiful and soulful while also bringing a fresh range of emotion and depth. Take Holier for example. The song’s synth tones are eerie while Kelela’s voice tempts us in closer, like a siren of the electronic music seas. Her top played song Contact explores her range while she harmonizes with herself effortlessly and continues to keep us in a trance.
It feels like 2023 will be the year Drum and Bass has its return to the mainstream. Already several artists have put out albums paying homage to the rhythm that once graced the sound waves of the mid 90s. Take a listen to Caroline Polachek’s latest album Desire, I Want to Turn Into You, to hear more. But I’d be amiss if I didn’t take a moment to applaud another banger on Raven. Happy Ending is a similarly haunting track but it sets an exciting tone for the album. Following the opening track Washed Away that is lovely, enticing and slow, Happy Ending slaps us with fast paced drum lines that will surely get one excited to sit and give this whole album the space and time it deserves. My suggestion: put this over the best speakers you have in the house, brew some tea and stare into the horizon while you contemplate all the abundance in your life. Thank me later.