Lia Rye – Fever Dreams
If I had to guess, I’d say that Lia Rye is still searching for a magic formula for her all-genre music. Fever Dream (seen/heard here) is the title track from her new EP and it is fascinating! The EP itself doesn’t feel cohesive as far as musical sound is concerned, but the use of multi MIDI melodies that juxtapose against each other (such as those in Fever Dream) playing minor-key against major-key, provide for a unique sound and drama that kept Vodka listening to the end of the EP. That’s saying something, as I’m not prone to listen to the entire EP unless I’m completely taken with each track. That’s not the case here, but I kept listening to see what might transpire. It’s a good, if not great, EP and deserves a listen!
As noted, Lia Rye wants to explore the boundaries of modern music, breaking the stereotypes for black artists while still representing them. In her efforts here, she’s grabbed onto modern pop, alternative pop, indie, and electronic, while blending touches of soul for good measure. It doesn’t always work as well as Fever Dream does, but it has potential and since Lia is only 18, there’s plenty of time to hone those sound experiments into a cohesive blend.
All of the music on the EP is written by Lia Rye. She plays keyboards on the title track, while producer Joe Gautrey plays guitars on Habits and One Track Way. The only fully live track, Novacaine, has instrumentation provided by Jamie Esnard (drums), Tommy Kenney (keyboards), Sidonie Sutcliffe (guitar), and Sofia Ballester (bass). Blue Midnight features Tommy Kenney (keyboards), Anneka Shelley, and Lucas Armstrong (guitars). The remaining instrumentation is MIDI input by either Lia or the producers. Many of the tracks have their own producer, and this might be part of my problem with the unevenness of the overall sound. What works, though, is that Lia Rye’s vocals are always in front of the rest of the sounds, and that is as it should be.
So what about the vocals? They are as interesting as the music here, sometimes sliding and blending an almost spoken word into sung notes, and that voice is sometimes timid and sometimes bold, but always perfect for the song. Lyrically, Fever Dream (EP) is all about storytelling. Themes include striving for perfection and failing (title track), caring about what people think whether you’re a villain or a hero (Habits), exploring how one’s actions can lead to demise (One Track Way), and the trials of runaways on the streets (Novacaine and Blue Midnight).
As debut EPs go, Fever Dream is far from the worst I’ve ever heard. It has some really astounding tracks, most notably the title track and Habits, and although it feels a bit uneven, there is so much potential here, that it is well worth a listen. A future EP or LP with a single producer would probably solve the bulk of the minor issues that I hear on Fever Dream, but even with its flaws, it has some excellent music. Encourage this young artist to continue her exploration by listening now! It will be time well spent!
Note: Just when things were returning to a semblance of normality, the COVID 19 virus is again heating up in many areas of the country. It’s so disheartening to know that we have the tools to make this a non-event, by simply getting vaccinated and fully boosted. The virus has the potential, again, to shut down performances for musical artists. For this reason, artists such as Lia Rye could still use your purchases. If your situation allows it, consider purchasing more in these tough times. Please, if you are physically able to do so, get vaccinated. — Vodka