• Nearly fifty years in to a professional career of recording and performing as a backing singer with a variety of ‘name’ artists, Scottish songstress Raie has finally stepped forward with a solo album. And what a beautifully assured debut it is.

    Raie’s first love is country music, and the opening ‘Healin’ Train’ is a glorious blast of jangly electric guitar Americana. But whilst there are shades of Nashville throughout, the infusion of other soulful, bluesy and even gospel-laced influences delivers a diverse concoction which has its own original distinctiveness – aided and abetted by the powerfully lush and/or gently sympathetic full-band arrangements (augmented by strings, trumpets, violins, banjos and backing vocals a-plenty) conjured up by renowned producer Wes Maebe.

    Each of the eleven self-penned songs tells a real person’s story, from laments for victims of trauma and tragedy ( ‘Rebekah’s Lullaby’, ‘Pegasus’, ‘National TV – A Lament For Anneli Alderton’) to celebrations of people who have inspired her, notably her mother (‘Lena’s Song’), who foresaw climate change problems decades before the rest of the world. All sung with impassionedly emotive Scottish-tinged vocals which perfectly compliment the poignant lyricism of the stories. Heart-tuggingly moving and edgily joyous in equal measures. Love it. Martin Webb - R&R Magazine

  • ... Scots-born, London-based, Raie is one of life’s trip-me-up revelations. A purveyor of pin-me-to-the wall, beautiful, life-enhancing soul music. A sweet, certain surprise…  Raie has paid her dues playing live for many years – slipping through the net commercially, making astounding music. Chances are, Raie is playing somewhere in London right now and a select few are having their ears flipped over by her incredible voice. The sad state of the record industry is such that she hasn’t got a contract. A real stinker, when you hear this self-financed primer ....  her astonishing voice and incredible, lyrics. ... one of the most soul-enhancing pieces of music that you’ll ever hear – sad/happy/euphoric – the mind of emotive switchback lyricism that John Martyn nailed in the 80’s. In fact, fans of the JM, Des’Ree, Jill Scott and late-period Aretha Franklin should check [Raie] out. ... genuinely heart-felt music that deserves to be heard.  Martin Cooke – Bluesmatters Magazine

  • RAIE’S MUSIC THING “Umm…” ponders the usually loquacious but temporarily flummoxed singer Raie in response to an invitation to define the musical style of her debut solo album This Music Thing. “Soulful country-blues?”

    Born and raised in Scotland during the 1960s, (I was born ’55 – does that matter?) Raie began singing in public around the age of nine, winning talent shows “probably because I was singing Bob Dylan and Joan Baez songs instead of twee children’s songs.” As an under-aged teenager she performed in pubs “unbeknownst to my mum”, and then moved south to immerse herself in the London arts scene, including three years at drama school. Innumerable studio sessions as a backing singer led to working with Orchestra Jazira (“I had to learn Ghanaian dance steps as well as songs in Fanti!”) and The KLF (“fortunately, they paid me handsomely before burning that million pounds.”)

    In her thirties, back in London after a spell on the European folk scene, Raie began using her drama school experience to write for the theatre, working with, amongst others, Black Theatre Co-Operative and Irie Dance Theatre. “It then dawned on me that if I could write for theatre I could probably write my own songs. So in my forties I worked with guitarist Dan Cochrane as a duo and then with Peter J Pinto playing my own country-based songs, and fronting a larger band called Raie with whom I played Hammersmith Apollo and Ronnie Scott’s.” 

    In 2010 Raie released her first solo recordings, the single ‘Talkin Bout You’, and ‘Earthbound’, a well-received 5-track EP with guitar contributions by Elliott Randall of Steely Dan’s ‘Reeling In The Years’ fame. Co-producer was engineer/producer Wes Maebe, whose lengthy CV includes Robert Plant, Sting, Celine Dion, Carly Simon and, currently, Taylor Swift. It was the start of an increasingly magical working relationship. “I immediately felt that he understood me,” says Raie. “He’s a lovely, tattooed, long-haired gentle giant with phenomenal ears. Between us we developed the idea of doing a whole album.”

    This Music Thing’s country-soul-blues music was recorded by a band that includes “wild, free and extremely imaginative” guitarist Jon Klein (Souxsie And The Banshees), drummer Chris Bell (Hugh Cornwell) and singer Kevin Mark Trail (The Streets), all enhanced by the b-i-g productions of “magician” Wes Maebe. Interestingly, all eleven tracks are credited as co-written, but with a variety of collaborators from the band. “I write basic melodies, and every word of the lyrics is mine,” explains Raie “…but there’s a lovely gelling of spirits in the studio, and when the band introduce imaginative chord progressions which lift the feel of the song, I want to acknowledge that.”

    Raie elaborates on the writing of the album’s songs. “Each one is inspired by a real person whom I’ve met or read about and who has deeply touched me in some way.” They include childhood friends, her late mother (“my first eco-warrior”), a young suicide victim, exploited young boys in Syrian refugee camps, the Bible’s Ruth, an ‘other woman’, the singer Kevin Leo who was an early mentor, a victim of the Suffolk Strangler (“so shocking to watch TV footage of someone who was already dead”), and Ruby Bates, a key figure in the 1930s racially-tarnished Scottsboro trials. The lyrics are beautifully poetic, and despite the intense emotions of the songs’ stories, soulfully sung with discernible Scottish inflections, the musical arrangements ensure a positive rather than depressive listening experience.

    [The full band will be playing live in early 2020, with an album launch at London’s The Lexington on 9 February.]  Raie is excited. “I’m certainly a late developer as a solo artist. But learning my chops as a backing singer, twenty feet from stardom, was a great grounding. It’s now my turn to step forward those twenty feet.” Martin Webb - R&R Magazine

  • RAIE @ Map Café, Kentish Town: No criticism of Ms Archer (support) but Raie’s cheeky repartee as the eponymous lead of her top-drawer combo could easily warm-up solo. In a stylish grey retro dress, buckles winking as the house-lights dimmed, she opened with the beautiful, blustery ‘Blackbird’. Its repeated instruction to “get up, get ready” seemed apt. The double whammy of sunshine-Raie and heady rhythm, and the audience were reeling in their seats.

    The band slipped effortlessly from smooth to jauntier numbers in a carefully balanced set. Ripples of summer rain only enhanced a repertoire connected to the natural world and our relationships with it and within it. Long-standing fans nodded in welcome return to the mellifluous trumpet of Alaric Taylor. And, as always, superb backing vocalists, on this occasion Nathan Devonte, Bukola Abdul and Nazarene. Their harmonisations were deftly underscored by the very gifted guitarist and double-bassist Mike Comber. Meanwhile, Yusuf Alao on drums demonstrated a light touch never stilted in accompaniment to the often changing moods ascribed in each piece.

    The music drew on wide influences not only of Blues, Jazz and Soul but also Hip-Hop, Rock and Pop. Raie clearly has a passion for exploration but reins it in so that the band can let loose. At the rhythmic close of ‘Blood’ for example, the energy burgeoned some blistering harmonies and delirious vocal patterning. On keys, MD Manley O’Connor’s delectably atonal breaks jigsawed into other forces forming a sensational sound-scape. It was great to hear the keyboard’s varied colours seeping through a range of arrangements. Raie drew-back with just vocal and keys for ‘Asia’ – an anthem to motherhood paralleled with experiences of travel in India – traversing the plaintive to a jazzy vibrato in near self-harmony. Martin Slidel – What’s On London