Sheena Rae – “Don’t Tell A Soul (Shh)” & “Beggin”
Hailing from London, UK, singer-songwriter Sheena Rae is the whole hardworking package – as well as writing and performing music, she dances, models, and works part time in a bar. The pop and contemporary R&B artist has just released her debut EP “Soul-ty Tiers” alongside a couple of music videos. She wrote and recorded this whole EP during the Covid-19 lockdown in her bedroom, hence the play, off the name “Soul-ty Tiers”. Sheena Rae may not be not a household name just yet, but if she wants to, and keeps applying herself with the same ambition as on this debut, she will soon live in that household.
The crystal-clear and haughtily emotive Brit singer and songwriter tests the boundaries of her vocal tones and mood-swing musicality on “Soul-ty Tiers”, and comes up winning. Along with busying her sonic palette with leaps in emotion and atmosphere – from soft ethereal balladry, to upbeat stuttering electro grooves with a pop twist — Sheena Rae has shown a willingness to expose herself, ever so sneakily, beyond the clarity of her voice and its subtly rousing nature.
Right from the opener, “Beggin”, Sheena Rae takes their catchy pop hooks, and extends that reach into rap, all while giving the singer-lyricist room to present a page-turning reflection of her mindset. “Mama always said, know your worth. Daddy always said, put yourself first,” shoots off Sheena Rae, over the bouncy electro-groove, before qualifying that statement with the punchline: “You won’t catch me beggin’ for love.”
Things slow down to a soulful croon, on the eloquent and sultry “Don’t Tell A Soul (Shh)”. It’s a lustful mix of emotions atop a winding soundscape masquerading as atmospheric R&B, and a contagious pop ballad.
It is Sheena Rae’s voice, when mixed with the other-worldly soundscape that captivates and stimulates sensual vibes. “50/50” again switches the EP’s sonic template, with an upbeat dancefloor-ready groove. It’s a serpentine tune, with pretty piano motifs, urgently hypnotic vocals, and skittering percussion.
There’s a reason Sheena Rae has been playing on my sound system all week; her unmistakable voice, memorable lyrics and keyboard infused pop-sound make for incredibly catchy music. But it’s when she slows things down to a sexy whisper like she does on “Soulmates”, that you’ll go weak at the knees. The nuance and purposed intention in her vocal delivery is wickedly enchanting, with shades of vulnerability, tints of love, shadows of bitterness, and everything in between.
Aside from the EP’s consistency of theme and Sheena Rae’s resonating, bright voice, the variety of the music is also commendable. There’s a range of mood, styles and dynamic production. The music seems to paint her atop a pedestal, immersed in the discovery of self, while pondering the people and events that surround her.
What sets Sheena Rae apart from her peers is that she has the sanguine lyrical sensibility of an authentic singer-songwriter, and can fuse this with the production smarts and hit-sounding abilities of her contemporaries.
As the EP “Soul-ty Tiers” unfolds, you get the sense that Sheena Rae has not only been confined to staying in the house during lockdown, but she has learned tremendously, embracing her past, herself and her inter-personal relationships, and how she has grown from those experiences. It all makes for a compelling listening experience.
OFFICIAL LINKS: WEBSITE – INSTAGRAM – SPOTIFY – YOUTUBE