There is an allure in mystery, and we are often captivated by the things we can’t explain. The trope surrounding the silent, brooding, and mysterious character is seen in many novels, movies and even musicians. It’s no surprise then that while reading the editorial on Brooklyn-based singer/composer, Raina Sokolov-Gonzalez, that the overarching theme was one of mystique. The editorial focused on the elements and key players involved in creating the music video for “40 Days”, a “slow-burning single” by RSG (as she is fondly referred). While I’m able to envision and appreciate the complex beauty-in-the-cracks interpretation on RSG’s music video, I’m plagued with the thought, “Are there more layers to the artist, waiting to be unearthed?”
And with my pickaxe in hand, I began my journey along the musical tunnel of Raina Sokolov-Gonzalez.
Table of Contents:
- Who is Raina Sokolov-Gonzalez?
- 40 Days by Raina Sokolov-Gonzalez Review
- What’s Next for Raina Sokolov-Gonzalez?
Who is Raina Sokolov-Gonzalez?
Born into a cadre of musicians, Raina Sokolov-Gonzalez is the fourth member of her familial band. Her mother – a teacher of music, composer, and singer; her father – a playwright, pianist, and poet; followed by her brother – a producer and composer, all play a role in the creation of the artist. Surrounded by these musical enthusiasts, the path chosen by RSG should come as no surprise, but her family’s impact did more than steer her career, it moulded her, as we see elements from each member of her musical tribe fusing to form this harmonious Super Saiyan (a reference I hope my Japanese manga readers can appreciate).
A significant milestone for any artist, RSG’s debut album was released on May 21st, 2021. The title, “If They’re Mine”. The artwork for the album cover is a contemporary collage created by the German artist, The Scissorhands, and it fuels the mystery motif of RSG as faces on the cover are hidden and the rearranged cut-outs mask the identity of individual/s in the collage.
40 Days by Raina Sokolov-Gonzalez Review
The 7-track debut begins with the song “Better Half” and as the seconds pass and the music swells, I can hear RSG’s vocal layers and enticing harmonies. However, the light and airy harmonies are a contrast to the lyrical content in the song. The track is defiant, honest, and vulnerable, as RSG gives the listener a private reading from her internal diary. She expresses fatigue with various aspects of her life, from family-related matters to acknowledging her own tedious self-destructing behaviour, including my favourite line “I won’t admit to myself, I’m bad for my health” – Preach!
The album is laden with cool jazz influences and the relaxed tempo transported me to a dimly lit New York Jazz Lounge with a Manhattan in hand. Me, the jazz band, the backup singers and the headliner, Ms. Raina Sokolov-Gonzalez.
One highly discussed single from the album is “40 Days” and I must admit I didn’t realize the complexities of the title until I listened to the song and all the pieces started coming together. The song begins with a lone piano key and what I’ve coined at this point of the album as the Signature RSG Intro – haunting harmonies aplenty; and as any avid music listener would tell you, when an artist chooses to start a song with a piano ballad, it’s time to pull out your tissues and prepare for a good cry. 40 Days appears to be a song about heartbreak and knowing you should let go of someone but being unable to execute the necessary act. RSG is engulfed with emotions and like anyone coping with the end of a relationship, she is bombarded with thoughts and shared memories of the person she once loved and dare I say it, still loves.
What intrigued me more than the song was the title choice. 40 days and 40 nights is a biblical term that appears numerous times throughout the book, but the most interesting occurrence to me is the story of Jesus fasting in the wilderness for – you guessed it! 40 days and nights. All while being constantly approached with temptation. Is it plausible then that RSG is likening the withdrawal from the fast in the wilderness to the separation she feels after the relationship? Being constantly met with the tempter in her dreams? The metaphor is a literature lover’s paradise. Brava Raina, Brava.
What’s Next for Raina Sokolov-Gonzalez?
Amidst the recent release of her music video for 40 Days, RSG has been performing at various venues across New York and she is also set to embark on her first European tour in February 2022.