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Photos by Jacqulyn Hamilton, Miranda McDonald & Kelsey Fisher
There are so many positive words that have come to mind when listening to RAIGN’s stunning debut album. Having given a rave review on her summer anthem “Out of Time,” ROUGH ONLINE could not wait to get their hands on a copy of her new L.P “Sign” and there are absolutely no regrets. Opening with an orchestral performance which throws you back to the musical score of Lord Of The Rings, as well as the 21st-century spin on Bonnie Tyler’s energetic 80’s Pop-Rock sound “Out Of Time,” you just know from the beginning that this album is going to be one hell of an emotional journey. “Who Are You,” an epic Synth Pop ballad, unleashes the “Sia” inside the London-born music artist, with a deep tone and superb lifts at the end of each “anybody” in the chorus where she questions “does anybody know your name” on top of tribal drums that are hit on each beat with such strong impact that within seconds you are reminded of the music production to Rihanna’s empowering 2016 single “Sledgehammer,” and the tear-jerking string arrangement throws you back to William Orbit’s emotive, Alternative sound on Madonna’s 1998 hit single “Frozen.”
RAIGN’s beautifully crafted debut album continues with “God Only Knows,” which vocally explores the L.A-based singer’s Enya-esque, Gaelic-influenced, musical side, while she sends you into a trance with her masterful yodels which are sung so powerfully it is as though she is singing to the highlands of Scotland, and Rough Online love her so much for sending us into a spiritual frenzy with her masterfully performed vocals, that we have decided are the best we have heard all year when comparing this goddess with every other vocalist on the UK Pop scene currently. “Into Heaven Alone” does not shy away from wanting you to feel as though you are listening to 2018’s best Alt-Pop musician at a stadium as opposed to in your living room, with the perfect use of breathy reverb, whilst “Inside Of Me” is two words…breath taking. Rough Online have cried repeatedly whilst having the best song she has released to date on as loud as possible, so just sit back and let her emotionally charged vocal performance on “Inside Of Me” which makes you feel so profoundly sad that feeling choked is bound to happen and delivers a masterful vibrato, reminiscent of Sinead O’Connor’s distinctive voice, take over you. It is definitely Rough’s favorite track from Raign’s debut, concluding it to be the main highlight from “SIGN.”
But let us get to the album’s title track, which relies on military drums to build-up to one of the strongest choruses RAIGN has delivered out of her whole catalog of art, featuring the highest the singer reaches within her vocal register…and yes…the multi-talented songwriter for sure has some strong pipes on her. “Calling” throws you straight into “Dido meets Lana Del Rey” mode via the use of an acoustic rhythm guitar and Chillout percussion, while the arpeggiated piano in the second verse unpredictably reminds you of the haunting, gothic sound of Evanescence’s 2003 album “Fallen.” And of course “Calling” wouldn’t be the same without a choir of voices performed in the chorus section, reminiscent of one of the UK’s finest music artists Florence and the Machine. “Hold On To The Sky” introduces a strange synth, which makes you feel as though you have just stepped onto a U.F.O before quite quickly showcasing RAIGN as thee “opera singer” over a 90’s music production, throwing you back to the “Fumbling Toward Ecstasy” era of Sarah McLachlan’s early career, while “Find My Own Way” is Sign’s twisted, experimental moment on the album.
RAIGN’s highly-anticipated record ends with “Sunrise” which with its dark, bass synth playing a minor chord progression and a sinister vocal performance that delves into the “phoenix rising” meets the Devil, produces one of the most empowering moments on the album, while “Evergreen” unexpectedly moves into a slightly more mid-tempo Dance music direction, with its’ 4 by 4 beat and electro claps, building up to the chorus nicely and when that main hook drops you are instantly thrown back to the power of Sia’s 2015 single “Alive” and reminded of the powerhouse voice of Chantal Kreviazuk. All that’s left to say is…where are the deserved awards for RAIGN’s superb, long-awaited debut L.P? Underrated isn’t even the word in this instance, and we advise everyone to download and stream “Sign” now.