Photo By: Brendan Vaughan
From a remote location tucked away in the desert surrounding Indio, California, Reo Cragun is crafting music; creating a sonic summary of his journey to becoming one of the most unique musical empaths of his generation.
He embodies the full registry of our confusing but soulful American identity: Father incarcerated since he was a child, a loving household of women with the lion's share of responsibility for raising our youth, a childhood ambition to become a doctor and cure the sick, a career pivot after the death of a loved one to chase his passions, finding the love of his life, marrying and moving in with her.
Call it the first act of a life with all the sinews of who we want to be as a country, but struggle with as we constantly wrestle our better selves. It is in our nature to be changing and we always hope it is for the better of our kin and kind. Reo has all the potential to be the generational artist that leads people through this struggle. His is a unique voice that meets with perceptive lyricism, and production credits that rival the current best.
Most importantly he has a relatable nuance, an approachability that begs for more attention, an earnestness that the best artists contain within. Born in the Pacific Northwest, Reo’s journey has taken him south to the Los Angeles environs, but his compass points upwards to the stars and heavens. “Stardust,” a single from earlier this year, is an apt description of the lofty goals he sets for himself.
Adjustments, the sinew ropes that we pull and cut to create a path for ourselves, are a constant narrative for Reo, as is the reflection of the journey while on course. That introspection, a mobile one, like a floating couch for contemplation, is a hallmark of Reo’s nascent career: The pivots from self-sabotage, the difficulties and dramas that beguile us into operatic moments of elation, success and harmony.
This is typical of artists in transition - they change their locations and with that the topography and pace of their world expands and contracts; that oscillation builds or breaks them. Cleary Reo thrives in that resistance. The gaps in creative constructs that seem to divide lesser musicians, distracting their true voice, seem enliven Reo. By his own admission Reo has created a bridge work in his upcoming release “All the Way,” one that narrows his path but speeds his journey. The title doesn’t hide his ambition for loftier sounding goals, especially pre-COVID when most of this release was crafted, on the road with his first touring compadre and friend Flume.
What is most promising about Reo is what's yet unsaid and unwritten, rare does one come across an artist with potential that seems so untapped. He is clearly poised to win a larger audience with all the maturation he imposes on himself. The ambition is there, the life experiences are always unfurling, he has talent in droves; the world is waiting for Reo to go all the way.