Portland, Oregon’s rock ‘n’ soul troubadour Redray Frazier returns with a new single titled “The Real Thing” and, as bold as it may be to say it, he may be right. The New Jersey-born singer, songwriter, and musician taps into eternal songwriting qualities throughout the new track while still making the best possible use of the modern style at his disposal. Straddling the line between those disparate modes isn’t something every performer can do and, invariably, the flat-footed coming off sounding forced, straining for effect.
There’s nothing like that here. Redray’s unique blending of soul, funk, gospel, and rock has, of course, antecedents. He has his own voice in the way he phrases the lyrics, the evolving vocal melody, and the relaxed transitions from one passage to the next, among other ways. I love the guitar during the introduction. It isn’t anything fancy, but it’s ridiculously well-chosen and effective.
He’s known major label success. He’s opened for marquee names such as Ben Harper, Lenny Kravitz, and even played for a time in David Byrne’s touring band. Acceptance by such luminaries does more than affirming Frazier’s talents for us, it underlines his artistic allegiance. He’s loyal to music that captures a moment and puts listeners in a joyous spell. “The Real Thing” doesn’t have any other agenda beyond bringing a smile to the audience’s face and simply being an outstanding piece of music.
It more than hits its targets. Much of Frazier’s backing for the track comes across as electronic, synthesizers and computerized drums, but there are other parts that put this in doubt. The percussion definitely has quite a snap at times. The guitar certainly sparks like it’s in the singer’s hands and it isn’t difficult to imagine Frazier laying down some of its tastier lines in a live setting.
I mentioned loving the guitar during the song’s introduction, but it serves up funky runs, jagged riffs, and other touches of six-string color throughout the song. There’s a lot to love in this single. Redray Frazier has gone through his changes, refining his art, and stands in 2022 as a complete songwriter and performer. “The Real Thing” doesn’t take shortcuts and doesn’t ever attempt to bamboozle listeners. It’s unadulterated and far more than skin-deep.
It’s easy to imagine this work just as well in a live setting. Reproducing the song’s sound wouldn’t be too difficult and Redray has ample charisma to elevate an already fine tune. He’s obviously an experienced onstage artist, so it isn’t any surprise that the new single sounds geared in that direction. It doesn’t tax listeners’ attention and has a chorus live music attendees will latch onto in a big way. It’s the complete package for Redray Frazier.
I’m ready to hear it again. Everyone is going to love something different, but the standout part for me is the chemistry that he shares with the backing. Pulling that off is hard enough but conveying it in a studio setting is even more impressive. It’s another part of the magic that makes “The Real Thing” such an unmitigated success.
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