How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Originally hailing from Spain, Tucson-based singer-songwriter/guitarist Rahe (pronounced "Ray") has rapidly established herself as one of the most noteworthy young talents to emerge in recent years. While not yet a household name, Rahe may quickly change that following the release of her debut, Out of the Box, a musical outing of exceptional creativity matched with heartfelt accessibility.
Clocking in at a relatively modest 32 minutes of music, spread out over eight tracks, Out of the Box nevertheless manages to traverse an enormous gamut of styles, including slow burning R&B, flamenco, easygoing acoustic pop, and jazz-infused bossa nova. For many artists, this might represent a troubling situation, in which genre-hopping is driven merely by novelty over artistic merit. However, Rahe rises to the challenge by demonstrating a striking proficiency and easy comfort with the many styles in which she engages her self-assured songwriting. Indeed, under her guidance, jumping from the edgy rocksteady of "Two Steps Back" to the luxurious, Astrud Gilberto
-styled lines of "Pensando" not only feels natural, it feels absolutely essential.
Of course, credit must also be given to the efforts of Rahe's remarkable collaborators, from Eric Hines' quirky marimba work to Brian Hicks' thick baritone saxophone. One of the album's aural joys lies in the band's expectation-defying instrumentation choices, including the deployment of a bass clarinet in favor of a bass, and the building of a mid-tempo pop number up toward a surprising marimba solo. These are all relatively subtle points, to be sure, but they speak to an attention to detail and love of the craft that pervades the entire album.
Ultimately, Out of the Box serves as a testament to the marvelous music that can be achieved in any genre, when a visionary artist is joined by likeminded collaborators in a free and creative environment. Rahe has made a truly exceptional statement with her debut release, one that rewards with endlessly fascinating intricacies and musical subtleties over repeated listens.
Track Listing: Be Down; Alma v Corazon; Rescue; Say Something; Two Steps Back; Pensando; Pretend; Danca.