Review by Dom Vigil
Allan Rayman has rewritten R&B on his new album, Roadhouse 01. Using sparse yet stunning instrumentals that blend perfectly with his sensual and soulful vocals, this young enigma is sure to stun listeners with this release.
Opening Roadhouse 01 is the haunting yet soulful “Wolf,” which really sets the mood for the rest of the album. That’s not to say that the remainder of Roadhouse 01 stays on that same level, though. The darker tones in “Wolf” then easily transition into the more groovy “December,” which is spearheaded by powerful, gritty vocals, only getting bigger and more funky as it progresses. Within only two songs, Allan Rayman manages to showcase two contrasting moods on the album but without any sort of disconnect.
Easily one of the best aspects of this release is the sense of unpredictability one gets while listening to it. Roadhouse 01 sort of feels like unfamiliar territory, because one moment, it’s very R&B or soul influenced, and the next it’s more upbeat and hip-hop or even mellow and folky. Connecting all of these different genres and influences together is Allan Rayman’s gritty and soulful vocal work. Although incredibly powerful, his vocals never feel like they’re too much or overpowering the instrumentals. Instead, gritty runs and emotional crooning compliment each instrument beautifully and manage to evoke a different emotion with each coming track. Certain songs will leave you feeling unsettled like “Wolf” or even the third song, “Sweetheart,” while others are very smooth and soothing. Others, like “Repeat” are downright sensual.
While the vocals are definitely a driving force on Roadhouse 01, that’s not to say that the instrumentals aren’t strong, either. “Shelby Moves” for instance, is carried heavily by strong drums and bass, while the following “Jim’s Story” stands out because of the use of piano and a strong jazz influence.
One thing that each song on this album has in common is the use of negative space, so to speak. These songs aren’t necessarily huge or explosive by any means, but they’re certainly impactful. Ambient sounds serve to evoke emotions and really compliment Allan Rayman’s vocals, and they do so with ease. “Hollywood My Way” is a perfect example of this, with a sensual yet haunting undertone. In the blink of an eye, this song becomes big and bright before mellowing out once more. Contrasting very well with those ambient sounds is second to last track, “13,” which is very poppy, driven by synth and drums. Then, bringing things to an end is the bright and hopeful sounding, “God Is A Woman.” The final track is really the only outlier on Roadhouse 01, sounding different than much of the album, but this isn’t a bad thing by any means. If anything, it leaves listeners lingering for even more, eager to hear what Allan Rayman might do next.
Listen to "13"
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