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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Review of Reelease by Reesa Renee

After the first listen to “Reelease,” I was delightfully satisfied. The journey that Reesa Renee takes you on as you listen to her album is like going to the spa. First, you enter the spa, open your inner self and begin to lay down your inhibitions. The next step is to allow yourself to release your frustrations, trials and struggles and have the courage to let them go.

I am excited that she is new and upcoming and cannot wait to bring her on campus for Jazz by the Lake for homecoming. She is fresh and has a message. In her music I detected that she was not looking for just a few spins on the radio. She is here to stay and is an energetic addition to my musical collection.

On her birthday in 2010, she was given a makeover and photo shot. Once she was transformed, she became inspired to focus on her music as a career. From there she began getting her material together and performing at open mics in the area. Later, she traveled to New York City and opened up in the Village Underground. After performing only twice at the Underground, the crowds were already singing along to her songs.

Renee is an independent artist, musician, songwriter and lyrical poet from the D.C. area. Her voice glides through soulful sounds of jazz and then fast-forwards your musical clock to the more modern sounds of R&B. Mix this with an energetic ensemble of musical harmonies and undertones and you get an amazing experience. Renee launched her solo career in 2011 and in October became the second person in the last three years to win the prestigious Amateur Night at the Apollo with her original song, “Got Me Loose.” She has performed alongside musical veterans Eric Roberson, Raheem DeVaughn, Chuck Brown, Roy Ayers and Wale. Hometown Radio Personality EZ Street speaks highly of her and, even bigger, her biggest inspiration is Jill Scott.

The theme for the album is cleverly used as the title of the album, Reelease. Release your problems, release your relationship stresses and live. Live freely. Just looking at the titles for the songs on the album, there is a theme. “Life” is a struggle from day to day; how to get up and keep on moving. She gives instructions in her album of how to release yourself.

Track number four, “Where Do We Go From Here,” stands out. The upbeat go-go style is happy. The initial question is this: “Can you take me away?” The keys are light and fluid and the vocal background has a vamp that is free and rhythmic. The varied dynamics in this piece produce a feeling of going somewhere. Like a train ride, the tracks are rolling slowly and then they progress and move faster. The lyrics are “Take me away.” The lyrics mimic the fluidity of the musical journey. The keyboards and the drummer move together and flow with the “take me away” vibe.

The quality of “Obvious,” on the other hand, is questionable. The bass line seems to be struggling to find the correct pocket to keep the song moving. The drum line is good, but the rock flare lacks cohesion with the other parts.

Her album has an intimate storyboard of songs displaying her discovery of music. And, did I mention her brilliant voice? The complexity and originality of her brilliant vibrato is astounding. This album beautifully combines the classical, cultural, percussion-heavy sounds of her home town with a hard hip-hop undertone, which, when glued all together, create soulful sounds of the jazz era.

I am excited about her future development as an artist. This album is texturally complex and the time dedicated to this album gave way to a true work of art. Her band adds more cohesiveness but my only criticism would be for her to showcase her wonderful voice. Creating an arch in her vocals would give her more appeal.

“Reelease” is a classic combination of moods and emotions, and it brings feelings into music. These feelings bring authenticity and balance within her lyrical wordplay, and her vocal and melodic delivery. Renee’s album is musically expressive and perhaps if you listen close enough you yourself will also be “Reeleased” into artistic freedom and expression.

In 1990, on the campus of Johnson C. Smith, when I was in college the first time, I watched a young group of girls perform. They looked out of place with condoms over their eyes. These young girls called themselves TLC, and I watched them from that day forward explode onto the music scene. Maybe this is the same type of coincidence. But anyone who knows me knows I believe everything happens for a reason, so here’s to Renee.

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