Winnipeg’s Rayannah is very much a one-woman band. Using a variety of pedals, she is able to loop vocal patterns, layering each individual piece into a collective whole, resulting in a unique musical soundscape.
On her first release, Boxcar Lullabies, Rayannah showcases her talent for texturing sound. With the help of co-producer Carlin Lemon, that sound reaches fruition with the use of synth, bass, and various stringed instruments such as cello, violin, and viola.
Rayannah’s voice on Boxcar Lullabies is crystallized and pure, fitting well with the music. She’s able to cut through and float over the top of the layers of sound. On the Purity Ring-esque title track, her voice cuts through the pulsing rhythm, growing triumphant towards the end.
Rayannah switches things up on “Growing Song,” singing to a more R&B-style rhythm propelled by a slow jazz bass line. Here her vocals become more soulful and seductive. The track feels more like a Sade slow jam, which is a good thing. I found myself coming back to this track the most due to its infectious soulful tone.
However, Boxcar Lullabies is not without its faults. I thought the second track “Tivoli” was weak and forgettable, sounding like something out of Disney or what would have playing during a montage in a Mandy Moore movie.
Also, the emphasis on layering sounds leaves something to be desired. When the songs are all textured and accented by strings and synths, there’s nothing for the listener to grab onto. Layers of sound can be interesting, but without some sort of groove or riff to propel the song, you run the risk of everything becoming a sonic wash.
The brightest spots on this EP are when Rayannah was able to move the song forward. The title track has a percussive pulse the whole way through, “Growing Song” has a relatively simple beat and sexy bass line, and the rhythmic drum pattern that comes in towards the end of “The Water” keeps it from becoming forgettable.
Boxcar Lullabies is a strong first release from Rayannah. She’s explorative and has imagination. Listeners should be interested in hearing where she takes her sound and how she will evolve in the future.