Inside Arum Rae’s great sound

Brooklyn-based pop artist to play at The Garage


Electronic pop artist Arum Rae will appear at the tiniest of Charlottesville venues, The Garage, on Thursday, Oct. 23 to promote her most recent EP release, the “Warranted Queen.” Full of drama and atmosphere, Rae calls her EP “very real and open.”

Hailing from Austin, Texas, Rae said she has been making music since she was four years old. As her college years in Boston wound down, Rae began writing music in earnest, moving to Brooklyn to begin recording her sultry tunes. Though she received her degree in music business, Rae said she enjoys “the passionate side of music” above all else.

Following her bluesy 2004 self-titled EP, Rae’s “Warranted Queen” shows major stylistic changes toward heavily synthetic instrumentation but retains the beautiful vocal huskiness and slow beats which make her early music unforgettable.

Ambient opening track “2001” kicks off the album with a haunting melody and cold distance. One can’t help but imagine Rae, with messy hair and leather jacket, riding in the backseat of a taxicab through the dark streets of New York City, flitting from party to party, probably feeling lost in such a big world. Driven alternatively between a solid beat and the artist’s roller-coaster vocals, this track brings an air of mystery to the EP.

The album’s title track appears next, with considerably more warmth and intimacy. The love-story lyrics take tiny details of any happy relationship — sharing ice cream, sleeping in the same bed — to project an image of a meant-to-be couple which has the whole world at its feet. With sweet acoustic guitar melodies, the song grounds the album in theme and sound.

Third track “I’m Smoke” airs Rae’s sultry side. It would fit perfectly at the end of a big-screen action thriller. Heavy guitar and sharp bass welcome a certain danger to the artist’s generally carefree style, deepening the album’s sound through coy lyrics such as, “Can’t tie me up if I’m smoke.”

Fourth track “Something’s Happening to Me,” meanwhile, sounds more like a Target commercial. The blasting vocals and playful instrumentation make for an energetic track which serves as a bright spark in the midst of a deep, lava-like song sequence. Elements of swing and jazz music throw a vintage atmosphere into the song for increased fun.

“Proof,” the EP’s closing number, brings the release full-circle, reverting to distant electronic beats and dreamy lyrics. This song’s whimsical intro — an exploration of Rae’s voice under Auto-Tune — is undoubtedly the album’s most ear-catching, but the track is a weak album closer. It packs little punch.

In creating “Warranted Queen,” Rae spoke of the “desire of an artist to be fully honest, and to not push it.”

“That’s what I love about my favorite artists,” she said, adding she hopes she can give her fans the same experience.

The tangy, transporting mixture of styles which comprises Rae’s “Warranted Queen” EP together creates a versatile piece of work with few flaws. It is unclear what the artist’s set at The Garage will sound like — while her slower, more blues-influenced material may appeal more to the Charlottesville scene, her new music rings just as unique and focused. No matter what she chooses to perform, there is little doubt this mysterious music-making maiden will draw an enthusiastic crowd.

related stories