Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

Ravyn Lenae ft. Appleby – Free Room

Come on in!


Thomas Inskeep: Incredibly warm, lived-in production from Monte Booker and dreamy, delicate vocals from Ravyn Lenae make them both ones to watch. “Free Room” is a little bit like Erykah Badu making a deep house record, but it’s even more than that. Transcendent.

Tim de Reuse: What this song has in confident momentum, it lacks in focus and overarching structure — which I suppose isn’t out of character with Lenae’s cheeky, playful chirping. But I can’t understand the function of the little snippets of her casually talking in a different room, sounding like she’s struggling to find words, or how the song takes almost a full minute to wander aimlessly and peter out after Appleby shows up. The good parts of this song are so infectious they’re hard to keep up with, which makes it all the more disappointing that there’s some chaff in the wheat.

Alfred Soto: It boasts hints of the murmured lubriciousness of Tinashe’s work but in its beats and keyboard work a stronger house influence. Teenaged Ravyn Lenae winks and nudges.

Olivia Rafferty: A little bit of an Estelle throwback, with the biggest, fattest kick I’ve heard in a while. The chord progression loops around so often it leaves you wondering whether the song sat too comfortably in it, perhaps it could have moved on or given us some relief. What shines in this track are the spoken passages by Rayvn, showcasing a bit more personality than that endless rotation of four chords.

Juana Giaimo: “Free Room” has accomplished moments — especially when you can perceive the delicacy of Ravyn Lenae’s voice — but they are soon left behind by her constant rambling. Overall, I can only imagine this song being played at a hotel lounge or a restaurant where her spoken words get confused with the constant muttering of people having dinner.

Ryo Miyauchi: As Ravyn Lenae fills the spaces of a syrupy house piano riff, she sounds ready to get into a bouncy house hop similar to Vic Mensa’s “Down on My Luck.” And then she quickly stalls to change direction, throwing in an aside, and just inventing multiple other ways to slide into the beat. She’s making herself hard to pin down in this club as Appleby tries to chase her down, but maybe that’s the point.

Claire Biddles: The vocals are delicious in all the incarnations of their intimacy — there’s a physical closeness to the rhythmic and measured verses, like Ravyn is singing directly into my ear, and the way she giggles and hums and chatters through the track makes me feel like I’m in a position of trust, like something unfinished is being related in my confidence — “zero judgement, a free room” as she assures me. 

Will Adams: The pleasure of revisiting “Free Room” comes from the way a variety of voices make their way into that space, entering one at a time until they’re weaved together. With house music this springy and accommodating, it’s not hard to believe that each voice — confident “Down On My Luck” flow, breathy sung tones, Appleby’s creamy contribution, hesitant dialogue (my favorite part is “there is, uh… free room”) — is welcomed warmly here.

Reader average: [8] (3 votes)

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