Building intense anticipation song by song since 2015, in one fell swoop, gifted UK vocalist, writer, and producer Rationale has released an astounding debut album. A collection of powerful songs all connected by a distinct underlying sound unique to Rationale, the self-titled LP marks a well-deserved moment of celebration for the talented artist.
Known for his instantly distinguishable baritone, Rationale's vocals soar at just the right level above each musically dense track to deliver an emotion-filled performance that highlights his skilled lyricism. Born in Zimbabwe and living in London, the artist grew up on an eclectic music collection which helped influence his propensity for music that defies easy categorization. Blending electronic, soul, and R&B, Rationale still has a definite left-of-center pop-leaning sound that reveals itself in the anthemic nature of his songs.
Opening the album is "Re.Up," one of his original singles released at the start of his career. Jazzy and gospel-harmony infused, the track serves as an intriguing introduction to Rationale. He lures listeners in, singing, "Ooh, I wanna be your lover," amidst retro synth and guitar tones, and a bass line prominent in the mix.
Rationale's most recent single "Loving Life" is a joyous exaltation of the happiness that spreads into every corner of life when finding a deep, real love. Songs like these help to create a nice balance with other darker-tinged songs and lyrical content on the album.
Striking for its bold production and raw emotion, "Prodigal Son" began as a song about the strained relationship with the artist's biological father. Yet it evolved from autobiography into an exploration of the relationships many of his friends experience with absent fathers.
Another heavy-hitting track, "Fuel To The Fire," dives lyrically into deep waters. Whether intentional or not, the song seems to hit right on the nose with the heaviness that seems to pervade current events in our society lately. "Gone are the days of virtue and honor / Rights that we fought for," cries Rationale. Backed by a thick bass line and emphatic snare hits, the chorus repeats, "Pressure / it keeps falling / on my shoulders / from high and low. / Ain't no justice / in these moments / but we'll find comfort / when kingdom comes." Yet the Brit rallies listeners before the final chorus with, "So keep on fighting / Keep on striving," perhaps a sign of hope and strength that many of his fans in America can take to heart.
Rationale produced each track on his debut album, with the exception of the sonically huge "Tumbling Down," produced by Stint (known for his previous work with Gallant and Nao). The full-length ends on a different note, though, with a sweetly haunting acoustic track "Somewhere To Belong."
Once shrouded in mystery at the time of his first releases, Rationale has embraced his entrance into the public eye necessary to further expand the reach of his art. With recent writing credits for Rag'n'Bone Man, Nause, and even Katy Perry, his versatile skill set are proving to be another advantage in propelling his career forward. He has supported Bastille on tour recently, and Pharrell has expressed his admiration of Rationale, saying, "This person has discovered beauty in their voice." Next up for the breakout British talent is a European tour through October 2017.
Dive into Rationale's self-titled debut below: