There are still things to be hopeful about in this world. Things big and small. Global disarray and rancor may clog our media channels, but there are individuals still striving each day to help their fellow human beings. On a smaller but still significant scale, modern music may look and sound hopeless. The mainstream musical world teems with fly-by-night performers and musicians often embracing the lowest common denominator in their pursuit of fame. There are others, however, who are reaching beyond themselves each time out and attempting to leave something behind for us that speaks to our loves, hates, joys, fears, victories and dilemmas.
Rina Chanel’s music and her new single “Sweetest of Melody” fall into the latter camp. This song has a thoroughly life-affirmative sound beyond its obvious R&B trappings. The brass put into play from the outset grabbed my attention and it sets a seductive melodic tone for everything that comes after. The duet with vocalist Senghor Robinson matches with a singer who doesn’t just contrast her voice to great effect but generates genuine, if subjective and undefinable, chemistry. He occupies the lower register and opens things up vocally so that we enjoy a chance to hear Chanel’s voice in full flower. Her emotive skills are wide-ranging. She comes at the song’s various lines for a consistent set of angles and varies her approach with satisfying and always musical results.
Her affinity for the song’s smooth R&B style is total. She’s excelling within a long established tradition on the song, but it is a clear measure of her gifts that you can never point to a single influence presiding over her singing. The lyrics are every bit as universal as the vocal. Chanel and Robinson’s “conversation” with one another in song will cast an immediate spell for several reasons and one is the certainty of attentive listeners identifying with its words. Some diminish the importance of a quality song lyric and insist they are merely serviceable but there’s none of that here. It doesn’t aim for high poetry but, nonetheless, dramatizes timeless themes in song. What more can you ask for? The piano may be an underrated component in its musical success.
Many listeners will enjoy how it acts as a third wordless “vocalist” supplying an underlying melody counterpointing the singers. Even casual music listeners will be familiar with such an approach. Chanel isn’t aiming this single at any particular audience, hardcore or causal music fans can both apply, and this broad-based push in her music is an important element separating her from the pack.
Rina will create further distance. “Sweetest of Melody” raises the expectations for her EP release to a high level, there’s no question, but she has the sort of transformative talent that inspires confidence she can stay there. You can hear the passion as well. This is an artist who loves to sing and, given a message she can relate to, can tackle any material that comes her way. Rina Chanel’s “Sweetest of Melody” is a warm and memorable experience.