An absolute pox on you all for sleeping on Rationale‘s Re.Up. In a sane world, the opening of the soul man’s self-titled debut album ought to have catapulted him up there with the likes of John Legend in terms of the fresh take on the genre he offers.
In fact, John Legend isn’t a miserable comparison for the man here – the same way Legend appeared at a certain time with a certain affability, so too does Rationale bring with him a gentle re-up of electronic-soul while steeping it in that same commercially-palatable sheen. It’s an ailment that befell the first albums of similar acts like Kwabs and Gallant, but Rationale does well to get his voice heard above the pristine production.
So there are songs like Oil and Water that rise above MOR&B thanks to Rationale’s conviction and the fact that, well, he gives every song as much welly as if it were his last performance. It’s one of those with the texture of belief, both in his own material and the thought that it will reach every last year if he tries hard enough.
By and large, it works. Granted we’ve heard a lot of these songs before – Fast Lane, Prodigal Son, Fuel To The Fire all present and correct – but it’s on some of the new ones where we see brighter dimensions and future potential. Losing Sleep is his first near-club moment, bearing a face that could launch a thousand remixes, which in turn might get him that mainstream exposure he so deserves.
Unfortunately for Rationale, and a lot of acts that reach their debut via the meandering road of streaming and blogs, it’s hard not to think his greatest moments (certainly for this campaign) have already happened. There’s no standout moment beyond the blog hits here, no firm assertion that he can rise above a certain level. But the take-home is that Rationale certainly has it in him, frustratingly ending the album with the impeccable Somewhere To Belong. If this is where he’s heading then it’s incredible, but until then there’s enough of a taste of his personality to keep us wanting much, much more.