With yearning palpability and carefree temperament, Ravyn Lenae and Steve Lacy craft a spellbinding body of work in Lenae’s new EP Crush, edging both artists out and ahead of their contemporaries.
When it comes to articulating your feelings for another person, the exact words you’d like to use, may have the likelihood of getting muddled in between various what-ifs and commonplace overthinking. However, the moment when you know you’re really feeling someone, a lot, there’s something unique that takes control. A perk in your stance, boost in your confidence and all the stops pulled out.
For Chicago-bred songstress Ravyn Lenae, her Crush EP (released February 9th, 2018 via Atlantic Records) weaves through dazzling funk-fueled production by none other than The Internet’s Steve Lacy, giving new meaning to implications of crushing hard and truly meaning it.
Listen: Crush EP – Ravyn Lenae
Crush also provides latitude for her voice to play with new approaches to melody, her signature background harmonies and that killer falsetto; adding more dimension to her music than ever before. The creative marriage between Ravyn Lenae and Steve Lacy (who also sings on the record), two rising musicians, has seemingly brought out the best in their innate abilities to make spellbinding music. Though previous releases like the Moon Shoes (2015) and Midnight Moonlight (2017) EPs showcased the singer’s mature modernist take on R&B, Crush picks up with a fearless sophistication, placing the singer in a realm of futuristic neo-soul that boldly grooves through a seemingly clear and fun right of passage into womanhood.
Now serving as the opening track, “Sticky” was stunner upon its initial release; both impressing old fans and gaining all new exposure from the first 40 seconds, where the guitar-led opener clears way for a cutting high note where she sings “What did you do? / Got me confused,” ultimately making the song’s narrative around the back-and-forth nature of post-breakups more addicting to listen to. Though it catches your ear immediately, Lenae admittedly jokes about regretting having written the note for the song, as it may now be a difficult note to hit live while on tour; however, it was one she just couldn’t leave out, and is owning wholeheartedly.
Watch: “Sticky” – Ravyn Lenae
Cue the butterflies as the smoothness of “Closer (Ode 2 U)” basks in the early stages of identifying all the things you love about your crush and potential suitor. It’s cool, slick and sexy enough to boost the confidence of either party, but more specifically the one on the receiving end of Lenae’s lush compliments.
Don’t you know you’re beautiful, I
Love the way you smile
Don’t you know you’re beautiful
Why don’t you stay awhile
– “Closer (Ode 2 U),” Ravyn Lenae
The most resonating point of this project comes in after a syncopated drum sequence, led by Christopher Allan Smith (also of The Internet), which gives way to “Computer Luv,” an ode to the digital generation caught up in the complexities of online relationships and cyber lust. It all seems so good from afar really, with very little to seemingly lose. Why? Because you’re not in-person. However, that lust can be strong, and will sometimes be grounds for really interesting and unique connections that may or may not stand the test of long text threads. The “Zero Fatigue” singer speaks to this feeling, as she and Lacy exchange in an evocative story about a close yet distant love online.
When will I meet you
I’m down to see you
I want to see you right now
It’s been a year now
I shed a tear down
My face dripping, drown my feelings
In to this one text
I wonder what is next?
Will I catch real feelings for ya
Or could this be pointless
I should’ve avoided this
But what if this is real
– “Computer Luv,” Ravyn Lenae
It’s this uncertainty that resonates and makes this particular experience one that we’ve all been through and may not have talked thoroughly about.
“Computer Luv” – Ravyn Lenae ft. Steve Lacy
“Night Song” is one for all the ladies out there who feel good, look even better and want flaunt how proud they are to be themselves. Anthemic in nature, it steers away from the usual big empowerment tune, and is instead a pre-party slow groove, driven by the song’s unabashed danceability and singable verses. “I want to be no one but me / I’on care ‘bout what you say or think” sings Lenae, as one of the songs best lines fully captures the entire songs essence.
Lastly, we’re met with a funky crossroads telling of situation where the lines between friends and lovers are now blurred. “4 Leaf Clover” opens with Lenae airing the frustrations with feeling as though her lover may not be reciprocating the same level of commitment, or even courtesy, towards their budding relationship. For another great duet between Lenae and Lacy, both perspectives of the situation are brutally clear and outlined, yet there still seems to not be any common ground.
Crush is met with great honesty and storytelling that present itself in various forms. From the yearning palpability of “Sticky”, to the carefree temperament of “Night Song,” Ravyn Lenae and Steve Lacy craft a body of work that edges them out from the rest, and closely aligns them with a trajectory previously occupied by some of the greatest singer-producer collaborations of the past. We’re not convinced that this is the last we’ll see of them, and we enjoy a show stopping moment between two people who may very well consider each other a creative muse.
Crush EP is available now on all streaming platforms and you can currently catch Ravyn Lenae on her Crush Tour.
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📸 © Jingyu Lin