RĀI’s Southern upbringing ensures his musical talents are heavily influenced by the classic sounds of R&B, soul, and gospel and illuminates his music in a way few other performers from his generation manifest for audiences. His new single “Back to Life” is alluring R&B and soul with a positive message that RĀI embodies in the way he approach his life and art alike – he’s committed to embedding positive messages in his music that reflects his essentially hopeful and spiritually informed attitude and “Back to Life” clears that hurdle with room to spare. The production presents the single in the best possible terms – clear instrument separation, a keen ear turned towards balancing the different sounds in the song, and an atmospheric yet honest treatment of his vocals that makes him the center of the performance without ever putting any of his accompaniment into a clearly secondary role. It’s a wonderfully unified performance.
The way it all comes together is something many listeners, particularly the experienced variety, will associate with veteran performers rather than young men and women essentially just starting out. There’s little doubt, however, that RĀI has logged countless hours singing for live crowds, friends, and for his own pleasure before ever stepping foot in a recording studio for the first time. That constant “woodshedding” has paid off by exponentially increasing his potential early on in his career in a way few others enjoy. There’s a level of maturity that goes into the writing, recording, and listening experience of this song that realizes all the great things its style promises and makes it a genuine vehicle full of substance and profoundly affecting lyricism. It’s cut to a perfect length, as well, that introduces us to the theatricality inherent to this type of music, but staged in such a way that it never strikes a false or artificial note.
This is despite the clear presence of electronic instruments in the song. The synth and keyboard work surrounding the strongly rhythmic percussion carry plenty of melody despite their digital sound and we can note, yet again, how far removed electronic instruments are removed from the cold, sterile sound common to their initial introduction into music. RĀI has carefully built the song in such a way that it isn’t entirely reliant on its groove for success; instead, there are some strategic pauses embedded in the songwriting that ups the emotional intensity in a considered, intelligent way. The chorus is particularly effective while upending listener’s expectations a little. RĀI’s work on this song establishes him as one of the rapidly rising talents in the soul and R&B genre with a talent level that recalls musical giants who once walked the earth. He can stand in their measure with songs like “Back to Life” because they are classically entertaining and, yet, delve deep into RĀI’s heart and bears it for all the world to hear.