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Rhea the Second – Pink Nation

Detroit native and now Chicago based singer/songwriter and producer Rhea the Second continues consolidating her unique confluence of idiosyncratic musical inclinations and traditional Motown influences into a signature style. Her latest single “Pink Nation” positions her, as well, among the first rank of her generation of female musical artists and she assumes the mantle of speaking for her gender with unabashed confidence. There isn’t a single point in “Pink Nation”, however, where she presumes to speak for the entirety of global womanhood but, instead, her voice joins a larger chorus of confident and talented young women asserting their identity with pride and making themselves heard above the clatter of society’s increasingly contentious dialogue. She depicts her side of this ongoing exchange with the brio and passion we associate with long and substantive artistic careers.

Jayson Rose’s evocative production, with Rhea’s undoubted input helping shape the final product, is one of the instant ear catching qualities of the song. Rhea is mining personal experience to help put this song over with listeners and this sort of theatrical, yet measured, presentation aids in making intimacy an universal experience. It has a slinky groove established from the outset and the aforementioned Motown influences shine through her music like a beacon of light. She has vocal chops comparing well with past icons of the venerable Detroit label and displays a sure hand for bringing soulfulness into her art without ever straining for effect.

The cascading effect of her vocal phrasing neatly dovetails into the percussion. The drumming forms the foundation for the piece and has a slightly behind the beat feel creating the aforementioned groove, yet never over exaggerating its effect. She ratchets up her vocal intensity during the song’s second half without ever creating any sort stylistic break from the more restrained first half and the inclusion of saxophone in the second part of the track adds a thoughtful counterpoint to her voice.

The lyrics are intelligent and thoughtfully crafted. It is a natural move, of course, for Rhea to adopt a first person point of view for this track and it serves the song well. Once again, however, the elevating factor is what her voice is able to do with the words – she elevates the song, on the whole, to a sort of meditative account of lessons she’s gleaned from her female elders about the realities of womanhood and how they relate to her own experience.

The one blot on the track may lie in its abrupt ending. The three minutes and fourteen second running time seems shorter somehow, the song is a bit dream-like with its gossamer like touch, and cutting it at the end without a proper resolution seems like a lost opportunity. It does not ruin the track in any appreciable way, but developing the ending more would have only strengthened the song’s overall impact. Nonetheless, Rhea the Second’s “Pink Nation” is a mighty and impressive example of R&B’s continued evolution and possibilities in modern music. Rhea the Second deserves her billing as one of its more impressive young talents and we will likely be hearing more from her for years to come.

Mindy McCall

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