Bullets is available shortly

Pop; Electro.; Alternative


London, U.K.


LOOKING at today’s (first) review subject and it got…

me thinking about new ventures; the importance of radio exposure and attention- looking at the competiveness in the industry right now. RAY is the venture of former Ivy & Gold frontwoman Rachel Wilkinson. Having followed the London duo for some time: I was upset by the split and quite shocked.  One of the most ambitious and beautiful duos making music: they combined an essence of London Grammar with something unique and distinctly theirs. I am not sure of the circumstances behind the split- whether they have reached a musical impasse- but I mourn their passing. The magic and mystique created by Ivy & Gold left deep impressions on the fans- those that are upset at their passing. I will not dwell too much on their cessation: it is great Wilkinson has regrouped and attacking music on her own. Aside from a heart-stopping beauty:  Wilkinson’s voice is filled with intense passion and desire; a bucket-load of strength, clarity and colour. Her alma matter was able to ascend to dizzying heights because of that striking and stunning voice. Having already gathered quite a few fans- Ivy & Gold supporters will flock to her new venture- it looks like the London-based heroine is in safe hands. I wonder how RAY will start her career: what plan of action she will employ. With an amazing single under her belt- I will come to shortly- it has the potential to reach a wide audience; resonate with thousands of listeners. Based in London: there are plenty of radio stations that could lend a hand. I have been thinking about radio and how important it is to new musicians. Social media can only do so much: it has its audience but it does have its limitations, too.  Whilst RAY is accruing fans right now: there is a much wider audience out there that would love to hear her music. Where I live- it shall remain nameless- the local stations (the few of them) are pretty bad. Whilst concentrating on local talent- and giving them a platform- the playlists and presenters put you off music altogether.

I am not sure what it is with local radio: it seems intent on catering to a rather uncool, desperate demographic.  The middle-class, middle-aged white audience is well accommodated where I live: if you want to hear the same dull songs several times a day; enter some crappy call-in competition- you will love the stations. London is slightly more prosperous: there is a great range of stations that push boundaries and are pretty cutting-edge. I bring up the point- with regards radio- because I am an acolyte of ‘6 Music: the best stations we have in this country. It is not just the D.J.s that appeals to me- they are knowledgeable, warm and hugely engaging- but the music they feature. Combining classics and rare gems; brand-new, under-the-radar tracks; a range of genres and decades- how many radio stations give such consistency and quality? The short answer is ‘zero’. Not only (do ‘6 Music) keep the true music lover satisfied: their focus on new music is admirable. I can well see RAY being featured on the station. Her debut track has a great contemporary sound: it would perfectly suit the station’s ethos and demographic. I have heard so many artists struggle to get airplay and recognition: struggle to get the attention of stations around the U.K. Social media is a useful tool for new musicians.I feel radio is even-more-vital with regards promotion and development. I know Wilkinson has a great reputation- her work with Ivy & Gold- and a talent few others possess. Those qualities will stand her in good stead; she has a passion for music and will ensure Bullets makes its way to your ears. Saddened by Ivy & Gold’s split- and the connection they shared- I was glad to see RAY emerge from the flames. The central light and lead of the duo: regrouping and focusing can be a hard task. Not content to sit there and let the dust settle: Wilkinson has come out of the blocks and is setting her sights towards the future. I am not sure if she has management behind her- or a P.R. company- but she is establishing a solid social media base. Bullets will be released shortly- a teaser is available across Facebook and Instagram– and the fan numbers are starting to climb. Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are all primed- the song will drop to her SoundCloud account- and I am sure there will be a music video for her single. Plenty of people are excited and primed for RAY’s debut.  Knowing what an extraordinary talent Wilkinson is- and the effect she made with Ivy & Gold- you would be forgiven for thinking she will rest on her laurels. Quite the opposite, in fact. What you have with RAY is an outfit that has some familiar shades but is a different proposition. There is a lot of competitiveness in the modern game: RAY is not your average Electro.-Pop-cum-Alternative artist. Bullets provides so many different angles and avenues: colour mixes with black-and-white; ‘90s touches mingle with the modern-day- an explosion of intention and passion. I am very excited to see what comes next for the young artist. Photo shoots will surely come- a chance to see the vision and look of RAY, as it were- and maybe an official website (that would be awesome). More fans will come to the Facebook and Twitter pages; the Instagram numbers are going to rise- new music will be unveiled as the year progresses. We have the makings of a stunning and long-lasting solo artist. Make sure you back RAY and await Bullets. Its arrival is imminent and it will show what a force Rachel Wilkinson is.

Bullets begins with appropriate gusto and authority. Tribal drums pitter and patter: there is something bellicose and dangerous that beckons. The listener is pulled into something edgy and urgent right from the get-go. Keeping things impressively controlled and level- the percussion does not get intense too early- the introduction builds slightly- before our heroine is at the microphone. In the space of a few seconds; Bullets has announced its presence and planted the seeds. RAY steps to the microphone with some rather cryptic and fascinating insights. The opening line- “What is the cost of the unknown?”- promotes images of uncertainty and trespass- people coming into your life and creating hostility and unsure feelings. Taken at a different angle: maybe RAY is addressing changes in life (musical transitions and rebirth)- addressing her own fears and what the future may bring. With every new line; perceptions begin to change.  When singing “You are lost now/but never alone” I start to get a deeper insight into the heroine’s heart. It seems like- perhaps not intentionally- there is a nod to the end of Ivy & Gold. The frontwoman has undergone a break-up (in musical terms) and is seeking settlement and comfort- knowing she is not on her own. My brain is always caught between two plains- that of the emotional and musical; combined with a commentary on the world at large. I know Rachel Wilkinson has had to reposition her compass and rebuild her career- after the death of a wonderful and successful act. “What would he do?/What does he know?” are even-more-cryptic and arresting sentiments. I am not sure who the ‘he’ is in the lyrics- a fictional character or personal acquaintance- but the lines are delivered with verve and accusation.  Clearly, RAY has some anger and burden to get off her shoulders: Bullets is the sound of a young woman wrestling with her feelings and intuitions. When the chorus come to the light- in all its passion and splendor- you hear that voice rise and explode. Fans of mainstream Pop- especially U.S. idols- will find something for them in the song. While Wilkinson is a songwriter who has always produced something that transcends mainstream limitations: she is someone that wants to bring in as many people as she can. Bringing in American influences- the female power vocalists of the charts- with her own stamp and vision- a track that is likely to inspire a huge demographic. The chorus sees a hundred bullets in the heart: a very vivid and unforgettable image that assesses the full height of her emotions. When it does arrive; there is a bit more clarity that arrives: it seems like the song is looking at love break-down and struggle. If inspired by her own life- a past or present love struggle- your heart goes out to RAY. The emotion and lustre put into the lyrics show conviction and truth. Backed be electronic swathes and punching percussion: the heroine needs to “Keep breathing” and survive. It is clear recent events have compelled this song. Whether a direct addressment of Ivy & Gold’s break-up- a more general commentary on a relationship ending- you cannot ignore the relevance and timeliness.  “I have a heavy heart for you”, it is said.  The song’s hero was turning into “someone new”: perhaps a rather unlikeable and strange version of what he was. Maybe a relationship has turned sour and the duo is on different pages- wanting different things are seeming distant.

Examining the turmoil and exorcising her demons: RAY allows her voice to climb, flow and fly. Without histrionics and losing focus: the vocal remains engaging, powerful and impressive throughout. Bullets is a song that will seem familiar to everyone listening to it. I do not mean in terms of its sound: more to do with the themes and emotions that are being addressed. The heroine is clearly aghast and affected by a rather hostile time. Her heart is pierced and bleeding: the song is an execration of a painful time. When the chorus comes round for the second time; it carries more weight and compulsion. RAY’s vocals are layered and wordless- creating a rather hypnotic chorus- and the song picks up new insight, weight and meaning. Not just reserved to a particular audience- you might think the female, teenage audience- it is a song that will compel every listener. In spite of the rather personal struggle: RAY is a singular artist that will reach the heart of everyone. It is very clear this is “not a dream”- an idea that is repeated- and the hurt is very real. Maybe my earlier interpretations- about being about split and change in RAY’s life- might be a bit short-sighted. If you dig down- and hear the song a few more times- it is more outward and less insular than you’d imagine. Bullets is a song that is designed for a much wider audience: a song that represents all those heartbroken and angered; a track that can be interpreted and understood by damn-near everyone. The chorus’ proclamations of bullet-ridden hearts is a metaphor that we can all sympathise with. Whether you have felt the sting of love’s uncertainty- or has to reevaluate life- this song will make an impact. I myself- who has experienced change and uncertainty- was invested in the song and the lyrics. RAY’s performance is consistently impressive and powerful: that voice never drops and continues to sparkle and ignite through every stage. Backed by a canvas of pummeling beats and explosive electronics: the combination is stunning. By the final notes, our heroine seems drained and completely overwhelmed. Each time the chorus swings around- it is repeated at the end- you sense new anger and pain; that anguish and drama become more electric. Congratulations must be provided to RAY who has managed to transitions between the distinct sound of Ivy & Gold: stepping out alone whilst not completely abandoning her roots. Embers of the London duo can be found within Bullets. The song throws off the dynamics/constraints of Ivy & Gold and is a bold and unique track. Rachel Wilkinson knew she had to go in hard and strong: that is exactly what you get with Bullets. Backed by exceptional production values- that give the song a polish without distilling the power and verve- RAY is allowed to breathe and sing freely. Bullets is a track that could easily find itself across Radio 1– it has a sound that will resonate with listeners- but has more intelligence and depth than that. I mentioned ‘6 Music earlier: the quality and range the station provides. Bullets could make its way to their playlists- I have heard some like-minded tracks lately- and appeal to that listener base. I have no fears when it comes to RAY’s debut track. It will gain a lot of appreciative votes and pick up plenty of new fans. Radio stations will be lining up and that will- let’s hope at least- give her the confidence to produce new tracks and material. Few artists go in with such an authoritative and memorable debut. Whilst Bullets has a simplicity and familiarity to it: it never sounds like it could come from anyone other than Rachel Wilkinson. That blend of familiar and individual is a precious commodity in music. Make sure you stick closely to this London-based treasure.

I am sure RAY is excited by Bullets: seeing how it resonates with fans and what reception it gets. I hope radio stations give their backing and get behind the song. Bullets is a song that is filled with fiery and lust; there is  tenderness and reflection- all the ingredients the savvy music consumer needs and demands. Few artists are as arresting and stunning as RAY. A solo artist that combines exceptional, accessible songwriting with a desire to influence people and make them think deeply. It is heartbreaking to see Ivy & Gold break and go their separate ways. I am just glad Wilkinson continues in music and shows no signs of slowing. That brings me to the questions of the future. I know Bullets is the first song out of the traps- and a rather superb one at that- but she must be thinking about the coming months. I am confident there will be some gigs forthcoming. After that- and with the local audiences suitably hungry- can we expect some more material? RAY has a lot to say: from past pain to new hope; ample ammunition for a rather vivid and varied E.P. I shall not put too much pressure on her but it is something to think about. Bullets is a song that appeals to the ‘6 Music lover in me. It is true: there are some chart-friendly vibes in the track. If you dig deeper there is a song a lot more cultured and layered than that- something that might miss the minds of Radio 1 listeners, for instance. I can detect influences of the past- some of Wilkinson’s music icons- and great nuance and depth. I am growing weary and bored of the predictable fly-by-night artists. Those that rock-up and toss-off the same plodding songs- filled with bad metaphors; clichéd sentiments and one-dimensional compositions. If music is going to progress and develop; we need to start fostering artists that have the promise of future existence. London is putting out a rafter of wonderful musicians this year. I was not hot on the output of 2015: I felt it lacked a certain spark and gravitas. Few artists (from last year) have stuck in the imagination. This year seems a lot more prosperous and promising. The capital’s qualities are ensuring its musicians are putting out some extraordinary sounds. Among the bustle and hustle- the rising property prices and intensity- creative endeavours are rising, unabated and without subjugation.

RAY is a down-to-Earth and sweet human that is likely to hook and seduce fans- she is an incredible musician in the live arena. As a songwriter: she combines the everyday with personal; heartbroken anger with more hopeful motifs. If you add all these ingredients together we have a musician that has a clear path ahead of her. I have speculated as to the rest of this year- if an E.P. is forthcoming- but I can see some great things beckoning. If you are restless for Bullets– there is snippet available from social media- you will not have to wait too long. Wilkinson’s past confidence and experience puts her ahead of her peers. I know (in future records) there will be touches of Ivy & Gold’s sound- that multifarious blend of Electronic-Pop and Alternative; stunning production and striking vocals. It is only left for the listener to get behind a truly excellent artist. I know RAY’s best days are still ahead: Bullets is a tantilsiing and confident song that will make its mark, for sure. Ivy & Gold fans will find some familiar strands- that lush production and assured vocal- but Rachel Wilkinson has thrown off a lot of her past- she has evolved more confident and sensual than ever. If you look at her Facebook page (for RAY) there are some provocative black-and-white shots: sexual and beautiful; graceful and alluring.  For me- and perhaps not others- Ivy & Gold had a sense of grace, sweeping drama and love. Now, we have a singer that has burst from the chrysalis and is more bold, direct and potent than ever. Congratulations to RAY on creating an authoritative and memorable debut tracks. I know social media mouths are watering and eager- the fans will not be disappointed. Those who bemoan the rubbish-ness of local radio and the samey songs; those who find more comfort and joy in ‘6 Music and the quality they feature- RAY is  someone you will want to get behind. The sun is out- although it could snow at any minute- and Bullets seems like a perfect Saturday soundtrack. Sure; there is some anger and loss under the surface. There is plenty of joy, strength and rush to be found: a song that will get inside the head upon first listen. Ivy & Gold might have (sadly) been consigned to the dust, but when it comes to its lead voice…

THE future is just begun.


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