Sometimes a song sounds best when it’s simple. When the canons of soul, funk and folk are considered as genres of music that are meant to move people–the tradition of musicians laying themselves bare in front of crowds in informal gatherings and stadiums becomes clearer, and the purpose behind the art of noise, and the timeless art of composition are equally laid bare.
Sometimes this purpose joins with technology in ways that create fresh, new sounds.
If the four singles Rationale has released from his forthcoming album are any indication, this soulful electropop singer-songwriter’s baritone voice is likely to be a signature, fresh sound of 2017. The collection on its way to EP status is fierce.
‘Prodigal Son,” “Palms,” and “Something for Nothing,” are all soulful ballads with electronic tinges that have drawn the artist a fierce following that he’s built over the course of his career, and unique sonic fusion that have been notable. Tracks from his prior LP Fuel to the Fire, such as “Fast Lane” have been equally described as “80’s inflected late night soul.”
‘Vessels’, released in December, is the latest single from Rationale’s upcoming release of the same title. This single displays the London-based singer’s vocal talent–which has recently been tested in Bastille’s arena tour of Europe. The sparser production of this single, compared to some of his more polished work, is a refreshing departure that is especially apt for work that fits well into the canon that could be called “the travel song.” Gospel undertones and a striking, syncopated backbeat frame simple piano strains and choral refrains in a production that makes married soul and folk concepts work together in an unexpected way.
It’s not surprising though, considering that Rationale, who was born in Zimbabwe, but raised in East London, credits his mother’s “eclectic” record collection as an influence.
The eclectic nature of composition really shines through in examination to the lyrics of this single, which read:
Most people I know wouldn’t know that they’re living a lie/Tracing every penny, clinging on to a lonely life/We have a choice to define our fate/Fall in line or break the chain/Empty vessels, empty lives.
Lyrics from this piano ballad also have a particularly nostalgic feel–and meaning to Rationale, according to an article featured on The Line of Best Fit.
He says, “The lyrics for “Vessels” were written thousands of miles up in the sky on my way to LA. I was missing home and the people I care about–and contemplating the time I’d spent away from them all year. The lyrics pretty much wrote themselves, and the production is a joint [work] between me and my friend Bastian Langebaek.”
Langebaek, a producer originally from Copenhagen who also goes by the name “Goldfish,” has many production credits to his name, and is responsible for fusion sound of his own right. He is most recently credited with Jack Garratt’s 2016 single ‘Worry,’ and worked on projects that include Sway Clarke II and Tom Micsh.
Vessels is currently available on iTunes and was featured on their Best of the Week playlist. Rationale is touring Great Britain next month. I hope he eventually makes it stateside.
It’s also awesome that he’s quite willing to #Resist, on Twitter.
Umm yeah, sure you do. That whole getting caught on camera talking about grabbing women by their private parts…. real respectful behaviour https://t.co/w73220KlQb
— Rationale (@iamrationale) March 9, 2017