Debut album Woman from Los Angeles duo Rhye is smoother than a stone drawn from the bottom of a cool, clear spring. The tracks roll by with no effort and no urgency. There is an essence of time slowing down; an elegant interruption to the chaotic milieu of noise that furnishes the day. When first track Open appeared online in 2012 little was known about its enigmatic creators. Now Robert Hannibal (producer) and Mike Milosh (vocalist/producer) shed their satiny cloak of secrecy and share a suitcase full of smooth bedroom jazz.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the unveiling is that the honeyed vocals and earnest ponderings belong to a man. Milosh’s androgynous timbre brings a softness and fragility to the standard take on masculinity that is wholly unexpected. Much like Miguel’s R&B reimagining Kaleidoscope Dream, emotional responses to beauty bubble to the surface without any regard for stereotypes. Each of these ten tracks explore the romantic experience, from the dulcet yearnings of The Fall to the orchestral and sensory Shed Some Blood. In title and themes this is a celebration of heady infatuation. At times the Sade-esque saxophones and languid basslines are almost too reminiscent of an ‘80s love-in (One Of Those Summer Days springs to mind.) But something keeps you wanting more. There is a lingering redeeming essence, like the smell of perfume on an old t-shirt.
At its core Woman is a red wine, long hot bath, lazy rainy afternoon of an album. It doesn’t demand your undivided attention and it doesn’t promise anything. While whiling away the hours it can be revisited time and again, with enough careful nuances for new discoveries each time.
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