Jordan Rakei — What We Call Life — Album Review

Soul | RnB | Electronic

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The first instance where I had discovered the New-Zealand singer-songwriter Jordan Rakei (who has also performed under the moniker of Dan Kye) would’ve been through his 2019 abum Origin.

As his third studio album release was my first real taste of the world of Jordan Rakei and his highly wondrous and electronic-inspired brand of soul, It was fair to say that I warmed to the artist fairly quickly. In fact, I would say that Origin was one of the highest climbers that the musical year of 2019 had to offer; turning from a decent album, into one of the year’s most memorable projects, in a fairly short period of time.

With all of that said, I was most certainly excited to see where Jordan Rakei would take his unique musical style next.

Earlier this year, it seemed that the next Jordan Rakei album was finally coming. In the month of April, Rakei released his Late Night Tales project. And while I initially perceived it as the artist’s next album, I begun to do some more research into Late Night Tales as a whole. It turned out that Late Night Tales is essentially a series of sorts, who employ the talent of a range of different artists. Some of the existing ones include the likes of Fatboy Slim, Arctic Monkeys, Snow Patrol, and of course, Jordan Rakei.

It made sense then that Rakei’s Late Night Tales project was more of a compilation than a studio album. I even wrote a review for this project, which you can read more about here.

And while that project was certainly enjoyable, and had a lot of talent to offer, my itch for some new Jordan Rakei tracks wasn’t quite scratched. With that said, it was marvellous to discover that Rakei had his newest album up his sleeve the whole time. And it has finally arrived.

What We Call Life is the fourth studio album from Jordan Rakei. And I’m very pleased to write, that the wondrous feel of his music has definitely stuck around. Although this time around, the vibrant, summery, and more lo-fi atmosphere of Origin, has been replaced with more intricate, slow-burning, and somber feeling tracks. This certainly works with the prospect of the colder months fast approaching, meaning that What We Call Life is set to be a very memorable autumnal album of 2021.

And while Jordan Rakei’s impeccable vocal range was more than noticeable on Origin, I feel that this kind of aesthetic gives a bit more leeway for listeners to really take all of Rakei’s beautiful melodies in. In fact, I might even say that it is a better time than ever to give this artist a shot, if you haven’t already.

I can definitely get the sense of this album being another grower, much like origin. However, given the more subtle and layered approach, I feel that this sentiment will only be amplified with What We Call Life.

Of course, there is the argument that this album doesn’t appear to be quite as exciting as Origin on first listen. However, it may just be the case the beauty that this album carries will be revealed over time.

So to try my best to answer the question, is this album better than its predecessor; the most accurate response I can give is that time will tell. Nevertheless, this is a great album choice to ease listeners into the autumnal musical mood.

Favourite Tracks: Send My Love | Unguarded | Clouds

Least Favourite Track: Runaway

Ninja Tune

Enjoyment: 7/10 | Memorability: 8/10 | Atmosphere: 9/10

Uniqueness: 8/10 | Satisfaction: 7/10 | Narrative: 8/10

Final Score: 8/10

My articles mainly revolve around music reviews and analysis. A bit like Anthony Fantano, but just a decade behind.