On his first full full-length album, Jordan Rakei shows us why he is so highly regarded in the world of neo-soul. Rakei recently moved to London from Brisbane, and has been straight-up killing it recently. He has featured on a number of tracks from big artists like Disclosure, Tom Misch and Ta-Ku, and released a couple of EPs while he was still in Australia that showed off his angelic voice and beautiful compositions. Disclosure called him “the next D’Angelo“, and boy does he live up to that praise.
Cloak has been a long time in the making; Rakei teased the album mid-last year with track ‘The Light’, which is the fourth track on the album. Cloak meshes jazz, soul and hip-hop, and channels Hiatus Kaiyote and D’Angelo very strongly. This album is immense, because the songwriting, production and the musicianship are all incredible. The album bursts open with a flourish of free jazz before the heavy beat comes in on ‘Midnight Madness’. Local Melbourne legend Remi features on the next track ‘Snitch’, which explores different time signatures without ever losing momentum. That momentum is carried on by the funk outburst that is ‘Blame It On My Youth’, one of my personal favourites on the album, before the familiar hip-hop strut of ‘The Light’ kicks in. The amazing change in key from the verse to the chorus gets me every time; it’s uplifting, and matches the lyrics perfectly: “live today, if only for one moment/the light of your life is everywhere”.
‘The Light’ is followed by the first official single off the album, ‘Talk To Me’. The soulful, jazzy-samba strut had me a little worried when I first heard it: it’s a great song, but it’s not a single, and it didn’t stick in my head like ‘The Light’ did. It’s definitely grown on me, though: the vocal layering reminds me of D’Angelo, and the song overall is a throwback to ‘Spanish Joint’ off D’Angelo’s award winning album ‘Voodoo’. After the incredibly groovy first five songs finish, the beautiful and lush interlude ‘Still’ floats in, followed by the incredible ‘Rooftop’. These songs match the tone of Rakei’s soft and lush voice.
‘Lost Myself’ brings the grooves back in and holds steady, but isn’t the most exciting track on the album. The next track, ‘Toko’, features jazz drummer Richard Spaven, and lives in the same realm as Hiatus Kaiyote’s ‘Choose Your Weapon’. ‘Cupid’s Cheese’ opens softly but slowly builds into an electro-soul banger, whilst also featuring Ngaiire. ‘Theta State’ and ‘Sworn Enemy’ are throwbacks to the hip-hop stylings on ‘Groove Curse’, Rakei’s 2014 EP. The album finishes on the beautiful neo-soul ballad ‘Tewo’, and it’s a fittingly beautiful end to an amazing and beautiful album.
Cloak hits all the right notes, and will promote Jordan Rakei to the big leagues in the world of neo-soul and hip-hop. It’s an incredible debut. Songs like ‘Blame It On My Youth’ and ‘The Light’ are absolute bangers, and will be on repeat in my car for a long time. I can’t wait to hear what Jordan gives us next, whether it be another juicy feature or more original material