Embracing influences from all corners of the musical spectrum
Sofie Lindevall
10:57 16th September 2021

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Returning with a stunning introspective exploration of the essence of life, artist, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Jordan Rakei is at his most vulnerable on his fourth full-length What We Call Life.

The past 18-months will without doubt be remembered for a lot of things; a pocket in history where much of what we had been taking for granted was turned upside-down or had to be put on hold. Some of us had more time for our own thoughts, time to evaluate and re-evaluate what was important to us. Perhaps we all stumbled across the question “is this what we call life?” at some point in one way or another.

Going through periods laden with anxiety as a child, Jordan Rakei would sometimes ask himself that very question. What We Call Life feels like an attempt at an answer. Having started a journey of self-discovery through therapy after taking an interest in the “positive psychology” movement a couple of years ago, Rakei came to approach his creative processes in a new way, resulting in what can be seen as an introduction to a new and intimately personal side of the New Zealand-born, Australian-raised and London-based artist.

“As we worked through it, it made me realise I would love to talk about the different lessons I learned from therapy in my music: about my early childhood, my relationship with my parents and siblings, becoming independent in London, being in a new marriage, understanding how my marriage compares to the relationship my parents had,” Rakei explains.

On the album’s lead single, 'Family', we find Rakei opening up about his parents’ divorce and the glimpse into something so intimately personal is heartbreaking and stunning in equal measures. The album reaches its peak about halfway through when Rakei’s soulful vocals meet pulsating synths on 'Clouds', a song written in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests that followed the murder of George Floyd.

Jordan Rakei has got nothing to prove when it comes to showcasing his skills as a diverse musician and creator. After having released the album Small Moments under his more dance-oriented moniker Dan Kye while taking a break from producing What We Call Life last year, it is clear that Rakei has embraced influences from all corners of the musical spectrum in the making of the latter. Seamlessly moving from the softly atmospheric synths on 'Send My Love', to the driving '80s-tinted beat on 'Illusion' and the heartfelt strings on 'Unguarded', Jordan Rakei proves that he can confidently master just about anything.

What We Call Life is not necessarily a lockdown album, but listening to it coming out on the other side of what has been an extraordinary year and a half it is comforting knowing someone else is trying to ask and answer some difficult questions. 

What We Call Life arrives 17 September.

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Photo: Press