Whisper Thin is available at:
Singer-Songwriter; Pop; Alternative; Folk; Soul
12th May, 2017
The E.P., Deep Within, is available via:
Dust and Ashes
THERE is something both ironic and wholly fitting…
about Rebecca Raw’s name. Her music is open and revealing but has an emotional sense of reflection and peacefulness. I will come onto that and the contrasts in her music but want to, first, look at shifting music tastes and those with music degrees – a case of education over natural instinct/feel – and artists who stand in the memory. I will look at songs that document personal experiences; depth in songwriting – amidst a culture of shallowness – and that important debut-E.P. stage. I know there is still a big demand for something more commercial and accessible in music. There is, and always has been, that division between those who like the easier, lighter Pop song and those who prefer their music with less polish, expectation and ‘box-ticking’ sounds. I am not being snobbish against those who herald chart music: there are some good tracks in that area and we cannot judge people for what they listen to. I feel there is a definite need to change things and shift focus away from the mainstream at the moment. It is not a case of talking people out of bad tastes: we need to show a certain demographic – the pre-teens and teenagers – they can enjoy their favourite artists but mix that together with the more respectable, away-from-the-media acts. I am not sure whether chart tastes are influenced by a need to embrace something cool and contemporary – nothing to do with quality but seem cutting-edge by association. I dip my toe in some chart music but, as I assess and promote underground artists, my mind and body are always drawn to musicians who do things differently. Rebecca Raw is about as far away from mainstream chart acts as you can get. She is one of those songwriters who writes from her heart – and is not surrounded by a committee and producers – and has an exceptional background/education.
Maybe I am being a little terse towards those who yearn for something a little more populist. Back in the 1960s, The Beatles were the equivalent of, say, Harry Styles. There is no denying they were commercial and market-driven but that is the point: I do not object to the derivation and intention of music but the quality. Chart music is there for a reason but I question the necessity of a chart – for singles at the very least – and how we qualify and quantify true quality. Music’s primary objective is to inspire and fulfil. We want to create a legacy and solid base for music but I wonder to what extent. I shall come to Raw’s music in a minute but have been thinking a lot about the divisions in music. Every artist I feature tells me they are unconcerned with the mainstream/charts and make music that strikes against that. There is, I know, a wave of artists who take the opposite approach: their sounds are very much designed to appeal to the pre-teen audiences. That said, even they seem to refute the idea they are commercial and lack depth. I am sure, if you asked him, Harry Styles would say he is an antidote to chart music and a ‘serious songwriter’. That is an assertion I cannot back and feel it ironic so many artists are refuting this label but still playing up to it. The only reason the teenage/young demographic lap up the chart music is because that is what they have been raised on – not necessarily what they will like. I will, like an old man, bring in that classic example: The Beatles. To me, they are the only group/artist from music who are beyond criticism and appeal – if anyone says they do not like them then they are lying. I have stated how The Beatles were, in terms of commercialism and hysteria, the One Direction of their day. The difference between the two is the quality and sustainability. Music has always had those artists made to look/perform a certain why but that should not come at the expense of quality. Too many songwriters are letting others write their hits; dictate how they sound and taking any sort of individuality away.
Because of this, we have created a culture of puppets who dance to the tune of the committees. If we kept the artists we have but, God forbid, encouraged them to write their own music and not be so defined and limited with their sounds, it would create huge waves in music. I am fearful there is a generation who are unaware of The Beatles and those artists who shaped music and defined it. Even in the 1960s, the chart acts were more varied and skilled than they are now. The mainstream is becoming less evolved and progressive – going in reverse and descending into a chasm of generic sounds and aimless, short-term-fix albums. It is clear there needs to be something done, but what?1 For me, one needs to question the impact the charts are having on music. Modern music seems to be as much to do with streaming figures and social media statistics than it does quality and longevity. Because of that, there is a community who are producing sounds that are basic, direct and lack nuance. This ‘commercial’ sound usually means sugary Pop or songs that are easy to understand and possesses little soul and intelligence. That is great for Spotify streams and views on YouTube: is this indicative of the times we live in? One will see a video from Lady Gaga – no disrespect to her as I admire her and know how influential she is – and there will be millions upon millions of views within a few days. Scour YouTube and see a song like Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God) from Kate Bush and the views will be meagre by comparison – for a song that has been online for years. Life and communication are so dictated by electronics and social media; music, in a way, has lost its meaning. The more respectable and uncommercial artists will struggle for viewing figures (by comparison) but that is a good thing. I can go into depth about whether YouTube and other sites like this are causing issues in music (but won’t) but it seems many mainstream artists’ popularity has very little do with the quality of their songs – or anything to do with music at all.
This brings me to Rebecca Raw who is part of the underground elite. As I have said; most of the artists I put on these pages go against Pop/mainstream and is the kind of musician we need to foster. There would be nothing wrong with her going into the mainstream and being put under the spotlight. I see a few equivocal artists in that position who possess the same musicianship and talent – they are largely drowned-out by the generic and plastic alternative. The more artists we elevate to these prestigious positions the richer and better music will become. I feel, as mentioned, there is a notable shift towards Raw’s brand of music. Of course, there are those who will always back the mainstream charts but many are casting their votes elsewhere. This is encouraging so, because of this, Rebecca Raw is someone who has a real role to play. Her music has a blend of genres but does not sound too scattershot and busy. You know she grew up listening to all kinds of music and has instilled this into her own. Because of this, one gets a sweet bouquet of Soul, Pop and Classical. I wanted to speak about those who study music and those who perform through feel and instinct. I think it is wonderful musicians follow their passion that way and gain that education. Studying a degree in music, like Raw, means she would be provided with the finest tuition available and insight into the music world. Raw has been studying music since she was young and, one feels, that desire and curiosity is what led her to study Music at Cambridge. In this kind of surrounding, she would have been with peers who had that same ambition and knowledge of music. Whilst there, one imagines all sorts of disciplines would have been taught: ways to push your sound and improve your music. Not only would Raw learn about Classical instruments but all manner of genres, artists and sounds. I have studied in Cambridge and know (then, at least) what a vibrant and young population live there. In addition to some great music venues, there are a lot of great local artists. She would have witnessed this and been inspired
My big issue is when one looks at the other side of music education: the music schools and academies. There are some programmes (producing and that side of things) that are genre-blind and honest. One is educated based on facts; without the need to mould them for a particular audience and market. I see many at music schools who are shaped around existing mainstream stars. Their sounds and songs are not natural and original: there is a conscious effort to prepare/turn someone into a chart act. Music degrees (at universities) are intended to educate and encouraged unique expression: so many academies and schools feel making someone commercial and profitable is the way to success. Whilst the graduate might be better equipped to transcend to the mainstream – earn money and be able to pay their tuition fees – that is one of the reasons we are seeing so many hollow clones. The number of graduates I see sounding the same and identical to the biggest singers around is depressing. That is why music education worries me – whether one approaches it from a knowledge perspective or wants to become famous. Rebecca Raw is someone who goes into music so she can improve and strengthen her OWN voice – not parrot a faceless chart act so she can get some residual success. There are schools of thought (me, to an extent) who feel self-teaching and intuition is a stronger learning tool than musical education. In regards music academies and schools; I think this is certainly true. If more musicians learnt independently and discovered their own sound, it would bleed into music and create greater diversity and fewer one-trick ponies. That is what galls me about music academies. You get a singer and songwriter who rarely touches an instrument; if they do, they are never too curious about creating scores full of expression, emotion and alluring – simply creating an adequate backing to their voice. The singer is often created around that mainstream example and there is little in the way of free speech and unique thought. How much of music education revolves around historical artists and using them as templates?! Maybe I am judging without evidence but feel, if one is to further their music by education, it should be the degree course – where they will teach individuality and give students an insight into all sides of the industry. Rebecca is the perfect artist as she has that incredible education but very much follows her own thoughts and voice.
Deep Within, her debut E.P., is the culmination of years of study, discipline and experimentation. Raw is someone always keen to present her music the way SHE wants to. The E.P. is a personal and meaningful collection of songs that bring together her favourite sounds and genres. It is a beautiful and impressive creation that is seeing her capture the hearts and ears of some big taste-makers. I shall come to that in the conclusion but want to talk about something, perhaps, a little more shallow: images and being visually-striking. Actually, it is not really shallow but an important side to music. Visuals and photos have been on my mind a lot because so many musicians are slack and sub-standard when it comes to putting photos online. There is a school of thought – on the Ofsted blacklist, no doubt – who feels, so long as the music is good, we do not need many images. This is the biggest headache I face with artists: those who are unwilling to engage in photo-shoots because they feel it strips the mystique away; listeners will not get as much from the music if they know what the creators look like. It is a redundant statement and specious reasoning: unless the song is directly about what you look like then why would one be provided too much insight into a song’s nature and inspiration? The reason people like me need photos comes down to two things. Firstly, I need to put photos on my blog so the interview/review is visually-pleasing and not just a massive block of text. The other, more important reason, is to get a literal, physical look at a musician and who they are. Even a basic photo-shoot will; not empty the wallet so there is no excuse to be remiss in this area. I want to know what a band/act looks like and that they are taking the business seriously. The recent GQ interview with Brad Pitt is, I know, nothing to do with music but shows what I mean.
We get a lot of revealing and eye-opening quotes but some great shots of the man. It makes the piece look more professional and, as one reads Pitts responses, we see shots of him. It gives things a more fluid and human nature. We are not merely reading text and trying to picture the person behind those words. I do not want to publish a review that has thousands of words and a poultry image or two. Rebecca Raw impresses because – although, it would be good to see some more photoshoots in the future – she has some terrific photos and a sense of the aesthetic. The main image (at top and bottom of this review) is one that caught my mind and has stuck in the emery. Not only is the photo itself striking but the colours that surround it. Not only am I curious to know more about Raw as an artist but see she is somebody who takes photos and images seriously – not one to hide away and assume her music will do all the talking. The musicians who endure and build their fan bases are those who take care and time to craft and build ALL side of their music. You might not want to address it but getting photos online is as important as making your music accessible – another issue that provokes anger. There are still so many artists who have a Facebook page – maybe not an official website – and rely on the individual to find all their other website links. It must take about a minute to, on the information page of that site, put all the links in one place. From there, one does not need to search and has all the important information in the one location. You would not believe how important that is and, like images, is something many are overlooking. The jungle of music is full of wild beasts and predators who grow hungry and fat because they are talented and considered. The smaller, weaker animals are those who put sod-all information online and assume people will fawn over them – these are the ones who will be picked off and see their carcass collecting flies in the savannah. Rebecca Raw is keen to push her career and continue to record. These first steps are vital: get them right and you are in a strong position to grow and impress.
The reason, among others, I am excited about Rebecca Raw’s debut E.P. is because it is a strong statement and complete work. I have mentioned her music education, images and cross-pollinating sound. The key ingredient in her sonic palette is personality and personalisation. Her songs are not riddled with clichés, typical love songs and a sense of the over-familiar. It might sound obvious, but if a songwriter projects their own story and does not follow the pack; they are much more likely to remain and inspire. Every time I am presented with an artist who strays away from the obvious and generic; it feels like I am watching them undress. Not literally, mind, but in an emotional way. The music is so revealing and emotive, it can be quite uncomfortable at times. It is that sense of discomfort that makes me want to hear more. It sounds strange but few songwriters are that bold and honest. Raw has experienced heartbreak, turbulence and bad experienced and brings that into Deep Within. Whilst I found it better to focus on one song (the latest video/single) the entire E.P. is fascinating and worthy of intense study. When talking about the E.P.; Rebecca Raw put it in these terms:
“Each song was born as a personal response to a challenging time but hope prevails in my life and I always try to encapsulate this in my music. As others reach into the heart of these stories I hope that they will discover for themselves more treasures of this rich, wonderful, crazy thing called life.“
Raw has quite an optimistic and strong outlook. She is not one to be pummelled by life and assume the world is a callous and bleak thing. That being said, as we can see, her E.P. does explore the challenging and tough times in life – balanced against a sense of optimism and spirit. Were Deep Within a pessimistic and bleak work it might not be so appealing: the same could be said if it was inane, overly-cheery and lack seriousness. Instead, Raw strikes that balance and ensures there are personal revelations but plenty of light at the end of the tunnel. The first track on the E.P., Connection, demonstrates what I mean. It is a deeply personal song – premiered by Dan Golding on Premier Praise radio – and looks at the desire for dependable and strong relationships – during a time when many are shallow and immature.
That is something I want to detail – in addition to female artists remaining and inspiring – in the context of Rebecca Raw. Yes, there are a fair number of songwriters bravely showing some soul cleavage: the scars, burns and wounds that come from tempestuous love and bitter disappointment. Raw is someone with a cheery disposition but understands how important these negative experiences are. I am never going to say there is a reason these bad things happen – things, contrary to popular belief, do not happen for a reason – but it is, rather flippantly, just the way life is. We all have a checks-and-balance sheet that, depending on the individual, is weighted on either side. There is no karma, instant retribution of sense of real fairness – the finest and most thoughtful people getting an easy ride; those less deserving of fortune finding their luck runs dry. Life is, unfortunately, a matter of what you get and not what you deserve. Rebecca Raw does not skirt past that but tackles it. Her songs stem from those hard times but do not point fingers and wallow. That maturity and strength resonate in every number – something I will nod to in the final passages. Before I move on to her debut E.P., and Whisper Thin as the epicentre, I want to talk, a little, about female artists and appropriation. I have written features on race, gender and sexuality in music. Each piece aims to shine a spotlight on a negative aspect of music: where there is discrimination and unfairness that deserves challenge, protest and addressing. In terms of sexism, one feels there is a bias against female artists. That is, like I have explained in many features, a severe lack of female artists appearing in the headline slots at festivals. This extends to festivals in general – fewer females on the bill than male artists. One can argue female artists, when compared to their male colleagues, are afforded fewer chances and gain attention for the wrong reasons – the way they look and whether they are sexy or not. It may be difficult to reverse these poor practices and re-educate those who reduce women to their looks – that sort of reductive and appalling attitude needs to be eradicated. There are those (female artists) who proactively rebel against sexism and those – every female artist, in fact – who creates music in spite of discrimination.
Rebecca Raw does not need to prove herself or think she is inferior to any male artist out there. Unfortunately, she is in an industry where there are likely to be those gender challenges: maybe not getting onto festival bills because she is a woman; certain sources concentrating on how she looks and now what comes out of her mouth. An exceptional and highly-educated musician should not have to negotiate and repel sexism. Whilst there are many areas of music that do not fall into this argument; one feels every female artist is having to work harder in order to be taken seriously. Because of this, I feel a certain sense of responsibility. I am never going to be one of those sexist men in music but feel obligated to apologise for my gender – helping proffer female artists, without pandering, who would, otherwise, be ignored. It is, perhaps, no coincident, the most impressive, nuanced and promising artists (in my opinion) are female. Rebecca Raw has studied at Cambridge and making her first steps into music. Whilst her previous years have been filled with study, gigs and learning: the next several will see that all change. Raw will be under the critical microscope and be looking around for those big gigs and festival slots. Not that I feel she will face the same oppression and sexism as her peers – because of her sheer determination and passion to succeed – but there might come that point when she is judged by her beauty and not her soul. As the record/festival/music industry – those in a position of power – is largely male (the typical white, middle-aged variety); it is rather unsettling to consider. Luckily, Rebecca Raw is not the sort who takes that kind of crap and lets her music show why she is so worthy. So far, the reviews have been impassioned and very positive. On the basis of Deep Within, it seems like Raw has a lot more to say. I predict she will enjoy many years in music that will document personal growth and changes. If her debut E.P. looks back on hard memories and challenges in life – where she has overcome them with fortitude and defiant spirit – subsequent releases (might) look at new love, ambitions and fresh challenges. It will be intriguing seeing what form that takes and whether her sonic palette, varied and cross-genre, expands or narrows. Right now, I feel Raw is ready to face the pressures associated with the big festivals and attention of the nationwide radio stations.
The opening moments of Whisper Thin are, as the title alludes to, delicate and tender. There is something pure and soft but one hears plenty of emotion and potential working away. It is, the first stage, built on a simple piano coda that slowly comes to play and builds imagery. In my mind, I was in the outdoors and imagining something scenic and stunning. When the heroine comes to the microphone; she sings of a snowstorm in the summer. It is an unexpected contrast that, one imagines, is more about emotional conflicts than it is the weather. At once, you imagine that rather unexpected winter flurry – tipping it down in the middle of summer. When the piano comes into the mind, and wraps inside those words, you start to dig deeper and speculate. Raw’s vocal is wonderfully passionate but never overwrought: it is beckoning and cooing but never cute or too familiar. There are a lot of female artists who write songs with similar emotional ambitions but few that can start them so effectively and uniquely. The heroine is clinging to the heat and looking out for the spring: if we have snow in summer then, one would hope, there would be something more familiar and warm in the spring. The vocals have that paced and calm nature that means it is a lot easier to picture your own scenes and try to project what the heroine is seeing. I was looking at the emotional aspect and the kind of conflicts in her mind. Maybe there has been romantic distress or lies being told. It has had an impact and it is quite unsettling hearing the heroine search her mind. Maybe there is that literal sense of the conditions being unpredictable and changeable but you always imagine they are metaphors for a hard state of affairs. The heroine has little more to give and it seems like things are taking their toll.
That might all seem rather tragic and depressing but the song never descends into the maudlin. Instead, you are captivated by the gorgeous vocals which have an operatic/choral quality to them. In a Pop market that might promote huge, belting choruses: here it is always kept refined and concentrated. Because of this, one is able to bond and emphasise with a voice that is looking for answers and not finding them. Raw has been going through life and, one imagines, giving her all. There is no sense of justice: it seems her heart has been torn and she has been let down. Maybe I am reading into that too much but I sensed a woman who was battling with various situations and seeking solid ground. Whisper Thin is always appropriately composed and slight. The piano is the main (only) compositional element and augments that sense of emotion and upset. Soon, a solitary string comes in and adds to that shiver and heartache. The heroine has resolve but it has been reduced to the bone. There is little more to give and it seems – as a flower struggling to grow under the arch – there is that need for salvation and support. It is not necessarily a plea for quiet but of patience and acceptance. Not knowing the backstory, and why things have turned out this way, you are left to guess. I feel there has been a relationship breakup but, more than that, people not treating Raw as she deserves. That stripped and limited sense of defiance is one of the most affecting parts of the song. As buckled and entranced as one is by the vocal; there is that need to delve into the lyrics and trying to solve the mystery behind them. Perhaps it is as simple as a young woman who needs comfort and some kind of luck. It is okay not knowing the circumstances but you feel there is a single person at the root of the issue – rather than a series of events and happenings. Throughout Whisper Thin, there is that need to root for the heroine but also employ some degree of wariness.
She asks not for sympathy but that understanding and need for change. Evidentially, she has been bruised and it seems rather unwarranted and excessive. Raw’s musical training and education are highlighted in a song that sees incredible musicianship and emotion. I keep using that word ‘emotion’ but it is rather apt when you hear the song. Whether hooked by tremulous strings or those graceful piano notes; still by those evocative and beautiful vocals or immersed in the possibility of the lyrics – it is a fascinating song and one that demands repeated listens. It is, in my view, the strongest song of Raw’s career and one that promises much. I know she will be thinking ahead and what she can achieve. Knowing how strong her voice is and how malleable her music: my suggestion would be to keep going and push her talent as far as possible. Perhaps another song as hard-hitting and revealing as Whisper Thin might be best left for a few more months but there are few limits to Rebecca Raw’s talent. Regardless of your music tastes; you cannot ignore the fact Whisper Thin is an incredible song from a young woman who has worked most of her life to get to this moment. One hears the passion and authority in her voice; the skill in the music and such soulfulness in the lyrics. Put those together and you have a song that proves what an artist Raw is. I would love to hear more from her and cannot wait to discover what the future holds for her.
On Wednesdays, Rebecca Raw played London’s The Bedford and, one suspects, this will lead to many more gigs. I suppose the gigs she has in the diary were booked before Deep Within was released. She would have been relatively unknown and had little material out there. Now the E.P. is out – and singles are being released – there is ample evidence and concrete proof she is worthy of many more dates. London is, obviously, a big city and one Raw will rely on. She is based near one of the most vibrant sources for new music in the world. One might assume, given her education and style, she would prefer to perform at smaller venues or more ‘specialist’ ones – that focus on genres like Classical, Folk and Soul. I think that is another barrier facing some artists: that need to be pigeon-holed and predicted. I am not sure whether Raw has management or representation but, I’d hope, there is that need and desire to push her to as many venues as possible. She does, as I will explain more, have a brilliant blend of genres and able to captivate a wide array of people. Her music is personal and unique but has enough universality which means it can go wherever it pleases. I could see her playing some of London’s biggest venues –maybe in a headline slot – and gaining a new raft of fans. Aside from gig considerations, she will be promoting Deep Within and trying to get it out to the people. I know there is likely to be more music brewing in her and will be interesting seeing what form that takes. Maybe we will see more music by the end of the year – perhaps a new E.P. next year, instead. Right now, she has created a wonderful debut E.P. that earmarks her as an impressive and original talent.
Before I end things, I want to return to a few issues I addressed earlier – namely, shifting music tastes/trends; music education and songwriting with depth; female artists and the need to afford them an equal voice in music. Raw picked up the cello aged seven and grew up in suburban London. The clarinet followed as did a deep passion and desire for music. Singing in choirs and become immersed in music at such a young age enforced her tastes and style. One would think, from that breakdown, Raw would perform Choral/Classical music. Sure, there is some of that in her debut E.P. but only a small percentage. She combines her musicianship and early experience with an affection for various genres of music. I feel a person’s formative years are crucial when it comes to music. I feel many new artists are being raised on the right types of music and genres. That is not to say the chart acts have not had that exposure but feel their music upbringing has been a bit limited. I have mentioned/ranted about the charts and how there is the continuation of mainstream/disposable sounds. Raw begin singing at a young age but, before she attended university, got into Jazz, Folk and Soul. The developing and evolving musical palette has not only gone into her music but expanded her horizons and ambitions. One feels she will be looking to perform at as many festivals as possible and a whole range of venues. I mentioned earlier how there seems to be a tribal split between the, in my eyes, ‘purists’ who favour their music original and lacking commercialism against those who favour something more chart-like and monetised – the likes of Harry Styles, for example. You do get credible and proper songwriters in the charts, obviously, but you know what I mean. There are still too many artists who lack any depth and real talent. I know the demographic who eat that kind of thing up – the younger, teen audiences – but to assume given the alternative they would still act this way is rather presumptuous.
I feel the proliferation and continuation of the mainstream charts/tastes is because the viable alternative is being overpowered by the need to appeal to social media streams and push up meaningless figures. One feels that, behind every Pop star campaign, there are marketing men formulating ways to get to certain streaming figures; going viral and getting money in. Because of that, one feels something instant, quick and easy is being favoured over any credibility, soul and depth – almost monetising and sexualising the music industry. Away from the number-crunching artists, there are those who want to inspire and create a real impression. Rebecca Raw is one of those musicians who, of course, wants to succeed and be popular but is not going to obsess her mind with chart positions and Spotify streaming. Deep Within is an E.P. that has easy prefix and suffix. One can put the words ‘Real Music Comes From…’ at the start or ‘…Is a Passionate Artist’ to perfectly describe Raw. I argue chart music is becoming less relevant and does not reflect what music should be. The most interesting and promising artists are those who are not fitting into moulds and trying to appeal to a defined and limited demographic. Rebecca Raw has come up through the industry in the most honest and attractive way possible. There was that early affiliation and dexterity: bonding to Classical sounds and developing a fondness for other genres through her teens. Whilst at Cambridge; she gained that incredible education in a city which – I can attest to this – has immense history, beauty and vibrancy. No doubt contemporary tastes and artists would have filled her mind; under the wing of some of the nation’s finest music tutors, Raw would have pushed her sound and learnt so many new skills and lessons. I have been thinking a lot about music education and how useful it is; whether that gives one an advantage or any extra weaponry when preparing a career in music.
There are those for whom an education (at university or academy) is not an option. Maybe the cost is too high or the competition too healthy. For that reason, it does seem like there are barriers and restrictions that need to be looked at. I stated how I am wary of music academies and the sort of thing they are teaching students. Maybe concerned more with preparing them for the mainstream and getting them into profit: less reliance on encouraging pioneering and original musicians. I feel university courses have less of an agenda. They are not bothered with the charts and making their alumni sound like anyone else. There is a purity and tradition that makes (the courses) about music and what one can achieve. Rebecca Raw would have taken her place at that prestigious university with the intention of expanding her knowledge base and getting some expert guidance. THAT is the reason to go into music and, I fear, only a certain amount of musicians are following a music education for those reasons. It makes me feel there is an argument for musicians to find their own way and learn by feel and instinct – as opposed to being taught in a very defined and particular manner. It is a controversial argument but, when it comes to Raw, she is a smart and ambitious artist who has her own voice and direction. The music throughout Deep Within gets into the soul and makes you want to connect more with its creator. I can imagine there were a lot of hard and unsure times that provoked the songs. Putting them onto tape is one thing but delivering them with such beauty and etherealness – coupled with the stunning and variegated compositions – pushes it right over the top. I am starting to discover a new vein of honest and emotional songwriters who have the legs and stamina to go all the way. Although Rebecca Raw is at that debut stage, she shows what a talent she is. One of the reasons her music is connecting so hard is down to that personal and revealing nature. The music is never downhearted and depressing. Although inspired by some unwelcome experiences, the end result is something cathartic, hopefully, and forward-thinking. In an age where so many songwriters are self-destructive and insular – this is an open and embracing record that is going to see Raw in big demand.
I shall end this – I am sure you are getting a bit weary – looking at female artists and how Raw can influence the scene. That London upbringing – and Cambridge education – means she has had the experience of a busy and exceptional city and one of the finest educational facilities in the world. I am not sure exactly where Raw is based at the moment but one assumes London will pay a large role in her future. Not only will see be looking to perform more gigs in the capital but travel the country – and get some international dates in the future. Women in music have a bond and common cause that is seeing them aim higher and push harder than their male peers. The reason this is happening, aside from greater talent, in my view, is the continuing practice of sexism in music. Perhaps the issue is not as severe as it was decades ago but we have not come as far as we should. There should be no barriers in music and opportunities and success should be based on talent and not gender. The festivals, by and large, have men headlining; look down the poster and you’ll find more male artists. Go to a music award show and you’ll likely see more men nominated in gender-blind categories; more male artists playing at these events. Behind mixing desks and at the big record labels, it is still largely male. Women want the same rights and attention but it seems there is this ignorance and sexism that has not really abated since the earliest days of music. Whilst we decide what needs to be done – changes and overhauls need to happen from the base up – it is wonderful seeing the new crop of female artists. They are demonstrating why they should be atop festival bills and not put in the shadows. Rebecca Raw is among a cavalcade of multi-talented female musicians who have incredible compositional skills they blend with sublime vocals and urgent lyrics. It may seem patronising but it is really hard to reach the same sort of heights as Raw. Not only is she an incredible musician but has that poetic and soul-revealing pen that perfectly suits her luscious, entrancing voice. Having that kind of skillset is the result of years of practice, passion and study. The rewards for this should be large and we are starting to see that. Through this year, she will be promoting Deep Within and thinking ahead. I am sure there will be big gigs and that need to create more music. Whisper Thin is the centrepiece and jewel from a debut E.P. that, once heard, remains firmly in the mind. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to see Rebecca Raw tour abroad and build a big international following very soon. She has put the hard graft in and, if Deep Within, is any indication it is…
THE least she deserves.
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