all we need

REVIEW: Raury’s ‘All We Need’ is bold, beautiful and genre-defying.

Having listened to single Devil’s Whisper possibly over a hundred times, there are few people who have been more excited about the release of Raury’s debut LP All We Need. With its pulsating percussion, haunting choral vocals, pounding bass, and lyrically dense content, the track is a standout, but not a trend, on this vastly diverse release. We recently caught up with the artist to talk about the angel and devil on his shoulder that inspired the song, and have spent the last week trying to figure out just how we feel about the album as a whole.

From the first line of the opener and title track, with the Prince-esque organ sounds, it is immediately clear that this isn’t the Raury that we came to know on Indigo Child. The singer/songwriter, still only nineteen, has done a lot of growing up in the last year. It’s most apparent through the deeply structured instrumental pillars that hold up the album, but also through the heavily spiritual and worldly lyrics. This is a guy who has a lot on his mind, and it spills out of him in sensitive and rhythmic bursts.

Right now, I should give a disclaimer that those who come in expecting a rap record might be a little apprehensive at first. While there are plenty of great rap moments, they are not what make this record shine. Instead, it is a carefully crafted collection of work from an artist who self-professes that he does not identify with a particular genre. This “millennial kid” breaks out of all of the boxes and builds them into a cardboard forte to house his far reaching influences and ideas. Starting off with the title track mantra that “all we need is love,” optimism quickly turns to gloom on the highly charged Revolution. With lyrics that lament the destruction of our “burning earth”, it draws deeply on Gaia principles to the point of feeling preachy at times, but is saved by the awesomeness of churning tribal drums and rap-meets-reggae vocals.

Woodcrest Manors II has a distinctly Kid Cudi vibe, which is unsurprising considering he is name dropped in the track, and Raury recently credited Cudi’s music with saving his life. The ambling verse and shiny strings roll along with a mellow and hazy ambience, while the vocals reflect on the journey between youth and adulthood. Crystal Express stands out as a highlight that delves into the artist’s New Age sensibilities, but is so addictive and fun it might convert even the staunchest skeptic, refracting all its vibrant colours into a joyous rainbow you can’t help marvelling at. Slow track Her gives us a taste of the singer’s stunning vocal range and delves into more traditional themes of romance and love. We see a little more of this on track Demo 1: The Sea (not featured on the album) which came out just yesterday. Seems like this wunderkind is back at work already.

Second single Friends has been on high rotation for the last couple of weeks, with a surprising guest appearance from Tom Morello and a feel-good video to match its ode to good company. And that’s not the only killer guest appearance. Big K.R.I.T. gives a solid verse on recent single Forbidden Knowledge, throwing back to the sharp rhymes of his debut Krit Wuz Here, and RZA pops up for a slow groove on the soulful CPU.

As we drift in to the euphoric horns of second last track Kingdom Come there is a strong sense that this feels like a campfire sing a long of a record. It takes your hand in an offering of friendship that is testament to an artist who wears his heart on his sleeve and tries to meet up with his fans in every city he visits. It might not be what we all expected, but the sooner you are okay with that, the sooner you can sit back and sway along as you lose yourself in the flickering flames.

Yeah, I’m drinking this cool aid, and it tastes good. You can experience it for yourself here.