Album of the Day: Jordan Rakei, “Cloak”

Jordan Rakei hails from Brisbane, Australia, a continent that produced the acclaimed jazz-funk ensemble Hiatus Kaiyote, and harbors a soul scene in thrall to the nu-funk stylings of early ’00s America. Rakei’s debut, Cloak, harkens back to that same sound; it has the jittery, “boom-clap” kick drums made famous by J Dilla, and the warm and enveloping keyboards that turned up on D’Angelo’s Brown Sugar and Kool & the Gang’s “Summer Madness.” Its centerpiece is “Midnight Mischief,” a five-minute swirl of seduction garlanded with hi-hat percussion and Rakei’s jazz-inflected vocals. On “Rooftop,” Rakei describes the sensation of a first kiss in blushingly intimate terms. Throughout, his voice is quietly insistent, luxuriating naturally within the groove; but he’s just as effective when he picks up the pace. “Talk to Me” combines strummed guitar with Latin jazz rhythms, and on “Toko,” Rakei sings, “Time flies inside of me” over a splintering hard-bop beat. And while Cloak is mostly an album about introspection, Rakei keeps moodiness at bay. On “The Light,” he sings, “life is better when you’re open”; Cloak is the sound of relaxing and letting go.

Mosi Reeves

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