BitCandy Rating: 7.6

Normally around this time I try and take stock in all of the things that I've been listening to, place them in an entirely arbitrary hierarchy, and then come up with some sort of theme for the year in music. That's increasingly difficult to due since new sh*t continues to flood in, including the breathtaking debut, Welcome To The Winter, by Raye.

Rachel Keen is a 17 years old from South London, Croydon to be exact. I've never been to the UK, but perhaps all this means something to you. The young teen sports an electro R&B sound that feels like her own, but borrows in all the right places from artists like Banks and Lorde.

Stream Welcome To The Winter in its entirety below, then stick around for some more words about it. Or you can listen to it while you read, the choice is up to you. But if you know what's good for you you'll at least listen to this badass record.



The first thing that jumps out at me about Welcome To The Winter is how it's more of a mini-album than EP. Keen does an excellent ion job of establishing tone and theme. She wrote, recorded, and co-produced the whole EP in less than a year and a half. This is really impressive when I think about how I can't even get through a Buzzfeed list without being distracted. And yet this gal, approximately a dozen years my junior, can put out this fully-focused and moving piece of art by herself.

Keen was raised in a musical family, and weaned on classic soul and jazz. These influences show up throughout her varied, layered debut. She counts Lauryn Hill is her "all-time hero," and she's got seven songs of offbeat R&B with a natural pop glaze that would make the former-Fugees member proud.

While the whole thing is pretty great, my favorite cuts are "Bet U Wish," which plays like a sophisticated version of "Don't Cha," and lead single "Hotbox." Both songs find Keen singing with a confidence and edge that beguiles her age. I've been watching that video that keeps making its way around the internet about how the music industry is fake, and part of me thinks this may all be an elaborate hoax, that someone this young can't be this good. But I'm willing to put my cynicism aside for a moment and just enjoy this EP for what it is: A really great debut.

You can download Welcome To The Winter for free over at Raye's website. Do it and you'll be reaping the rewards all season long.


About Calvin Paradise

Calvin Paradise manages to live a productive life despite a childhood of home schooling and suffering from what some doctors have called the worst case of Groucho Marx's Syndrome in recorded history.