RĀI – Back to Life
“Back to Life” is an ever timely reminder of the musical power still possible when you have a superior soul/R&B singer. There’s a lot of fundamentals that go into RĀI’s excellence, but it’s his broad based mastery of the aforementioned styles along with the influence of southern gospel and the way his deeply held personal beliefs and philosophy complement the music that makes him a special talent in every way. Don’t fear, however, because RĀI (pronounced Ray) never brings that facet of his life into the music with anything resembling a heavy hand. Instead, the effortless production strengths and groove. The song runs a little under four minutes long and there doesn’t feel like a wasted second anywhere in the arrangement or vocal treatment. “Back to Life” will fill you with a good feeling upon hearing it and the inspiration driving the song’s performance is a clear reason why.
The music does a good job of communicating this, but it’s RĀI’s vocal that’s the primary conduit of this emotion. He has a seemingly light touch as a singer on this tune, but there’s strength in that delicacy discerning listeners will hear on certain turns of phrase. There are a number of abiding qualities in his singing and two of the most distinctive are heard in how he carefully orchestrates his singing to run alongside the arrangement while never overshadowing it and his phrasing from one refrain to another has subtle distinctions that underline how he never sings anything quite the same way twice. There’s, likewise, an impressive live quality to his singing that makes great use of the vocal melody without ever overdramatizing it. “Back to Life” hinges on RĀI’s vocal performance, but it wouldn’t be nearly as effective without the superb lyrical content he’s crafted for this occasion. It’s intelligently written and laid out while never failing to be accessible to even the most casual listeners.
The musical arrangement is a mix of expertly woven synth sounds swirling over a steady drum beat. Despite the electronic origins of these sounds, they never sound artificial or incongruous when linked up with his voice. He’s arranged the song in such a way that its peaks and valleys are carefully modulated, yet bring some added drama to the song’s aural narrative. The mood of the musical side perfectly complements his lyrical inventions and vocals without ever sounding imitative. The nearly four minute duration of the song seems ideal for the track and there’s not likely many listeners who will disagree. RĀI’s songwriting has the stuff of durability filling every second – melody, an unified approach to resolving every musical strand introduced to the mix, and a meaningful message never obscuring the musical strengths. His new single “Back to Life” will exert a magical hold over those unfamiliar with his art and those who have heard him before will feel satisfied that he’s well on his way towards realizing his musical destiny.