At only 25, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer Jordan Rakei - born in New Zealand to a Kiwi mother and father from the Cook Islands - is a rare talent whose distinct take on soul captures a sonic and emotional awareness many artists spend their entire careers chasing. He writes with a maturity and flair that belies his years and Wallflower sees Jordan edging beyond the peripheries of the genial, often sun-flecked sound his fans have come to know him for. The easy swing that has been the backbone of his sound from the outset is ever present, harking back to teenage days spent in his bedroom with his beloved MPC trying to emulate 9th Wonder and Pete Rock.
On Wallflower the tools and the process have evolved - the focus is on live instrumentation - but the groove and the cadence are unmistakable, framing soul and jazz in a truly vibrant oeuvre that simultaneously recalls his predecessors The Roots and peers The Internet, Nick Hakim and Hiatus Kaiyote. Jordan considers Wallflower his most personal work yet - it's an emotive opus inspired by his own struggles with introversion and anxiety. Sonically lush and complex, yet lyrically relatable and unguarded, listeners are offered a glimpse into the mind and artistry of a musician who grapples with his own self- image and fears every day.
On "Sorceress" the ego is personified as a sinister and controlling spirit figure led by equal parts understated ethereal guitar and Jordan's superb multi-layered vocals. Single "Nerve," featuring Dave Okumu of The Invisible on guitar, is upbeat and incites a sense of renewal as its lyrics call out the fallacies within self-constructed paradigms. Elsewhere, the ska-tinged "Clues Blues" is laced with trombone and saxophone by Ahmad Dayes and Wayne Francis II from South London pillars United Vibrations.
Jordan's decision to leave his home in Brisbane for London in 2015 has had a life changing effect on his music, his career and his outlook. In many ways Wallflower is a direct emotional response to his new surroundings and is undoubtedly testament to Jordan's personal strength, drive and overriding passion for his art as well as a reflection of his openness and eagerness to reach out and explore London's fertile music underground. It cements not only his importance as a contemporary, and truly exhilarating, soul voice on the international stage, but his stature as a producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist in total command of his sonic vision.