Singer-songwriter Raye is back with her debut studio album My 21st Century Blues after quitting her music label and becoming an independent artist. It’s hard to believe that this is Raye’s first album as she is no stranger to the music industry. Having written songs for artists such as Mabel, Little Mix, and Jess Glynne; as well as collaborating with Jax Jones, Joel Corry and David Guetta on records across a variety of genres including dance, pop and R&B.
Those who are long-time fans of Raye will know in 2021 she previously revealed her struggles to her fans about her label not letting her release her own album. Raye tweeted ‘I have been on a FOUR-ALBUM RECORD DEAL since 2014! And haven’t been allowed to put out one album’. Fast forward to 2023, and the first single from My 21st Century Blues, Escapism, has shot straight to number one in the UK charts, a well deserved milestone for the singer-songwriter. Although the track is based around heartbreak, Escapism uses a powerful beat and witty, honest lyricism, a real taste of what the rest of the album consists of.
Genre seems to be no issue for Raye, as she successfully flips between pop, dance, jazz and soul throughout the album. Black Mascara see’s Raye dabble in electronic music, with edgy beats, layers of sung-spoken vocals and enjoyable drops, curating a perfectly put together club anthem. Whereas the sultry jazz-infused Mary Jane features a much slower tempo, revealing Raye’s soulful vocals over sexy guitar riffs, despite exploring the not-so-sexy theme of addiction. The piano-driven Buss It Down has a more traditional feel, featuring Raye’s soaring lyrics backed by a commanding gospel choir, interjecting the track with strength. And ‘The Thrill Is Gone’ could be mistaken for a collaboration of Lily Allen’s lyrics, Amy Winehouse’s soul and Mark Ronson’s production. My 21st Century Blues proving to be a perfect ensemble of many genres.
However the most beautiful part of the whole album is definitely Fin which hears Raye thank her friends, family and collaborators, saying how she has waited seven years to release her first album. And thank god for Raye’s fighter spirit and tenacity throughout the music industry, which has allowed her to deliver a complete masterpiece full of raw honesty, original production and killer vocals. My 21st Century Blues was worth the seven year wait.