Avery Raquel 2022
Avoiding diva deliverables, sweet-toned lady from Hamilton sculpts a stunningly understated cycle of songs.
Previously, “precocious” was the most perfect word to refer to this young artiste whose talents as a performer promised her a prominent role on the Canadian music scene, although only a few of her followers could pinpoint the route Avery Raquel would choose. She’s still precious, yet a sultry seductress emerged now where an innocent child used to be, and her eponymous album signposts the chanteuse’s creative maturity. The emotional palette of her voice has expanded immensely, and while there’s a space for further growth, the Ontarian’s progress is captured here in the best way possible, her songs’ instrumental layer quite inconspicuously kept to a minimum and arrangements concentrate strictly on vocals.
Unsurprisingly, the lyrical focus of the 20-year-old’s melodic narrative is affairs of the heart, the four-letter L-word gracing the titles of three out of the dozen cuts on offer, but the velveteen “The Way It Ought To Be” – the record’s finale on which Raquel’s control over her delivery can’t fail to impress – displays an adult sort of wisdom, with an a cappella opener “When The Love Is Real” shaping a magnificent soulful polyphony and highlighting the many Averys’ harmonic balance. So when beats transpire to drive “Helpless” towards the Philly sound and “Take It From Me” towards contemporary R&B, she’s able to navigate this organ-oiled and brass-splashed suburban landscape with breezy ease, before “Please” releases its acoustic strum into the air to support the singer’s fluttering lines and let her linger on notes without going off on a melismatic tangent.
She may do just that, albeit with gusto and reserve, in the infectious pop of “New Found Happiness” or on the retro-styled “All Up To You” in order to take the listener to the mirrorball-lit dancefloor, yet “Deep In My Mind” and “You Said” find the little lady in a spiritual, chamberlike environment, majestically intoning against the vibrant background of gently plucked strings. Raquel moves over to a piano to carry the pensive torch tune of “Taught Me How To Love” in a solemn manner, each chord and syllable dynamically strong, until the ethereal “Love In September” enters the blues territory and the punchy “Put Your Love On Me” evokes a gospel uplift in a skatepark.
The moods on this album vary and veer away from the obvious, but above all it exudes integrity, because Avery Raquel has finally arrived in all her latent glory.