Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Raveena – Johnny It’s the Last Time

Via Mads, we find an imperfect relationship within jazzy pop. Or is that the other way around?


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[6.30]

Mads de Wolff: When working and writing, I have a preference for breezy, non-demonstrative R&B. As much as I love my Mariahs and my Arianas, during work hours I much prefer the subtle vocal work of singers like Corinne Bailey Rae. Raveena has a similar airiness to her voice, here perfectly balanced by the smooth production and, not least, the excellent backing work on horns and violin. Aside from the song’s easy-listening qualities, what makes the song really work for me is the interplay between the sonic lightness and heavier lyrical themes. The song revolves around an abusive relationship but, intriguingly, young Raveena does not play the role of a victim; she, too relies on “schemes and plots” to fuel their shared desire for “keeping it risky.” But how sincere is she? Is she (finally) leaving Johnny? Rewardingly, there are few easy answers here.
[8]

Katie Gill: I’m always a sucker for a good horn section and this song deploys it perfectly. The light, breezy, sort of jazzy soul stylings deliberately mask the unstable relationship that the lyrics deliberately try to mask as well. “So we got a little careless,” Raveena blithely sings as if it’s no big deal, ignoring the warning signs that permeate the rest of the lyrics. The entire song’s a beautiful piece of deliberate underplaying that I downright adore.
[7]

Ramzi Awn: It takes about a minute and twenty seconds to get to the only hook that matters in Raveena’s Starbucks commercial. Not a bad hook either. 
[5]

Alfred Soto: I wouldn’t have expected such a la-di-da vocal decorating a Midnight Marauders-era Tribe Called Quest backing track: the electric piano hook and horns do the heavy lifting while Raveena offers veiled imprecations.
[5]

Edward Okulicz: The idea of painting the recurring stories of a relationship that’s ugly on the inside as it appears breezy on the outside is interesting even as it could be a trigger or a worry for some others. But this one hits me with its head-nodding bass and array of funky jazz adornments — if it’s supposed to be a drama, I don’t hear it in her voice, and I don’t get the idea this is intended as background music for cafes. It’s too bright to hit its narrative target, but it’s pleasant.
[6]

Iain Mew: A nice variation on the set of superficially romantic songs which hint that things are not all well — in this case the surface is that things are bad and the subtext is that they’re worse. The sunny shrug of a tune complicates and engages further.
[7]

Thomas Inskeep: This is a little unnerving: a sexy-sounding little jazzy R&B number with a prominent horn section, about a couple who can’t stay apart but can’t stop hurting each other, literally. So while I can recognize how good this is (Raveena’s got a lovely voice, too), I don’t necessarily want to hear it more. It’s quality, though.
[7]

Megan Harrington: At best, it’s a baffling choice to frame the cycle of domestic violence as smoothed out Gainsbourg/Birkin for those comp CDs they no longer include with orders from Delias. At worst, it’s sitting dead on the nexus of unsettling and cynical. 
[4]

Brad Shoup: I heard the melodic lilts lifted from an Avalanches-beloved Osmonds tune, but I whiffed on the violence in the text. For all I know, the title’s the final thing he hears before biting the big one. Her arrangement is cracking, signifying cool-jazz confession without rote re-formation. Also, she puts a bridge in the first half of the tune; perhaps it’s a power tactic.
[8]

Anthony Easton: I love how casually she throws off important information, sort of a deliberately accidental recital. The horns in the last part of the song have the same energy, and she can sing the doo-wop syllables well.  
[6]

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