At just 19 years of age, Raury is already carving out a niche of his own. Mixing rap and hip-hop elements with a sparse folk rock sound, All We Need feels like a fresh piece of work, hovering equally between the two extremes that it draws influences from. It’s an ambitious piece of work, and just barely falls short of getting it all completely right.
The album’s strongest point is the versatility it finds with its niche sound. As the title track All We Need bypasses its grating synthetic intro, it evolves into an appealing acoustic jam, surrounding the initially lone guitar with layered vocals from Raury, which are piled top of each other to fill every little corner of the track; eventually some bass is added, and it eventually transforms once more into an arrangement full of violins and trumpet; it all feels exceptionally seamless. Later on the track Forbidden Knowledge, a looping distorted choir of vocals supports Raury as he raps over a sparse beat and accompanying guitar, making for a less flashy track but one that instead shows off his rapping skills.
CPU pairs 808 beats and an endearing piano line with Raury’s own distorted vocals, offering a perfect mix of the two influences despite lacking any rapping from Raury. Near the album’s end point, Trap Tears mixes a Spanish-influenced guitar line with more 808 beats before evolving into a straight trap song, offering one of the album’s strongest hip hop moments even as it retains plenty of acoustic elements.
If there’s any issue to be found on All We Need, it’s that these ideas often end all too soon, rather than expanding on their beginnings. Trap Tears is one of a few songs that ends more abruptly than it should, closing on an intermission-style section rather than giving the song proper closure; this is something that also occurs on Friends and Peace Prevail. Devil’s Whisper is the only song in this category to make good use of a sudden end, closing in a flurry of rapping and ominous near-tribal beats and finishing on a disconcerting note that fits the song’s darker themes and vibe.
With some fine tuning, Raury’s concept could be turned into a truly amazing album. All We Need has all the markers of a success, rarely failing to engage or entertain over its fourteen tracks, and is only hindered by some questionable choices when it comes to ending songs; while the intermission style makes sense in the context of the album, the songs that feature them could often use more closure than they receive. These are some relatively minor complaints in the grand scheme of the album, though; as a first full-length effort, All We Need is definitely top notch, providing a solid stepping stone for Raury to move forward from.