Following the release of his second album, Jordan Rakei, the talented New Zealand native opened up in a statement about the album and the creative process behind it:
“As someone who suffers from anxiety, it’s not always easy to express how you feel to other people. Having kept my anxious thoughts to myself for my whole life, it has been very cathartic to write and release a record which enables me to speak about the issues I face everyday. The writing process gave me an outlet to channel these demons through and I hope my thoughts provide solace to anyone who suffers from anxiety, as I know so many people do. I feel lucky and proud to be able to share these experiences with you, it is a huge weight off my shoulders. Saying things out loud is the best remedy.’
This message is is incredibly important for a number of reasons. Conversations about mental health issues have become more common in an age of increasing stress from both professional and personal life, social media leading to more antisocial behaviour, and the media itself perpetuating images of what success should look like, putting pressure on the younger generation to cope socially & emotionally.
Jordan Rakei’s new album tackles these issue first hand, or at least talks about them openly and honestly. Backed by gorgeous, soulful and jazzy production, Jordan has refined his sound on Wallflower, bringing denser, more developed production through beautiful chord progressions on tracks like ‘May’ or ‘Nerve,’ or the tight-knit relationship between the guitar arpeggios and the drum patterns throughout the album. The jazzy quirkiness of ‘Clues Blues’ gives it character, but also highlights a characteristic of this album I absolutely love. Despite Jordan’s raw honesty on issues surrounding anxiety and his own experiences, the tone and vibe from this album is more positive, uplifting and inspirational than anything else. The glittery strings and arpeggios on ‘Chemical Coincidence’ provide that exact feeling of euphoria, and Jordan Rakei’s vocal performances throughout this project are flawless.
‘Hiding Place’ is probably the best song Jordan Rakei has ever produced, at least in my opinion. It is not only the slower pace of this song, led through the drums and repetitive rhythm of the synth, but the progression of the track’s chords, piano keys and Jordan Rakei’s vocal performance that show such passion. Jordan’s lyrics are darkest on here, with him singing ‘See me hide into the dark place’ and later ‘hopelessly I’m desperate.’ There’s something about the build-up to this record in particular that is so powerful and uplifting- the fact that while Jordan might feel along, there is still a bright light at the end of the tunnel.
‘Wallflower’ is an impeccable closer to the album, with a vocal duet between Jordan and the talented Kaya Thomas-Dyke, capturing the essence of what it is like to be a wallflower, with both the freedoms and restraints it results in.
Wallflower is an outstanding record and we’re witnessing Jordan Rakei develop into a stronger songwriter and producer.
Listen to and buy Wallflower below via Bandcamp. Released on Ninja Tune.