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Live Review: Jordan Rakei imparts some clear-eyed wisdom about broken friendships on 'Wildfire'

15 May 2018 | 10:30 am | Kyle Fensom

On his first material since his debut album, Jordan Rakei imparts a simple truth about broken friendships amidst sultry vocals and sensuous piano melodies

Brisbane based vocalist, producer and songwriter JORDAN RAKEI has graced us with the first material since his Australian Music Prize-nominated 2017 debut, Wallflower, in the form of his latest single, ‘Wildfire’.

“‘Wildfire’ is about dealing with a broken friendship. It explores how necessary it is to allow yourself to move on after you’ve been hurt and how holding a grudge affects your wellbeing,” Rakei says of the track. “I often write about the concept of overthinking but this track deals more with acceptance for the sake of peace of mind.”

In Rakei’s hands, the trauma of a broken friendship is made to sound soulful and sultry almost, his seductively harmonised voice moving atop sensuous piano melodies. Meanwhile, a layered, polyrhythmic electronic beat and some golden-hued guitar and synths infuse the track with a humid, summery tone, moving it along with an effervescent momentum. All of this - the patiently layered structuring of the track, Jordan’s understated, restrained vocal performance, and the track’s bubbling movements - sets us up to expect that it’ll all culminate in some big, climatic moment of catharsis. But right when ‘Wildfire’ is poised to reach for this climax, Rakei subverts our expectations of songwriting by stripping it back to a bare beat.

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Jordan Rakei’s intentions here are clear-eyed: rather than blowing the track up to melodramatic proportions and giving us some emotionally neat, meaningful conclusion, he keeps ‘Wildfire’ down at the level of a quiet acceptance, leaving the track hanging in a state of ambiguity. Friendships often don’t end in a moment of climactic, definite separation. Instead, they tend to slowly dissolve and wear away over the course of individual moments and choices in time that build space between the two friends. And when they do end, past friendships can often feel this way, as though no amount of hours spent self-consciously reflecting and analysing trying to locate where and when the relationship went wrong, and what you’ve learnt from the experience will be enough to provide you with emotionally satisfying answers. The trick is to simply move on, and maybe to politely wave the next time you pass them on the street. On ‘Wildfire’, Jordan Rakei understands this truth.

IMAGE: Jake Turney