L’Rain asks “what have you done to change?” (live at JBL)

Jul 23, 07:00 AM

L’Rain is the musical persona of the singer and multi-instrumentalist Taja Cheek. Her new album Fatigue begins with a lyrical quandary: “what have you done to change?” The music that follows takes us on a journey of self discovery with songs interwoven with home recordings of practicing piano, clapping games, and everyday life. The first full length song “Find It” repeats the mantra “make a way out of no way,” looking for a pathway out of darkness. An unexpected sample of a preacher at a friend’s funeral service — recorded with permission by L’Rain — interrupts the futile chant promising that “good days outweigh my bad days.” But L’Rain doesn’t provide quick solutions for making change. Rather, she takes us on a journey that evades easy understanding.  By avoiding conventional structures, L’Rain asks the listener to lean in close to the music. The sounds are at times unsettling. On “Blame Me” the guitar is nauseating, warbling in and out of tune. But the uncomfortable moments are bl...

L’Rain is the musical persona of the singer and multi-instrumentalist Taja Cheek. Her new album Fatigue begins with a lyrical quandary: “what have you done to change?” The music that follows takes us on a journey of self discovery with songs interwoven with home recordings of practicing piano, clapping games, and everyday life.

The first full length song “Find It” repeats the mantra “make a way out of no way,” looking for a pathway out of darkness. An unexpected sample of a preacher at a friend’s funeral service — recorded with permission by L’Rain — interrupts the futile chant promising that “good days outweigh my bad days.” But L’Rain doesn’t provide quick solutions for making change. Rather, she takes us on a journey that evades easy understanding. 

By avoiding conventional structures, L’Rain asks the listener to lean in close to the music. The sounds are at times unsettling. On “Blame Me” the guitar is nauseating, warbling in and out of tune. But the uncomfortable moments are blanketed over on songs like “Take Two” where warm synthesizers mix with angelic voices. Moments of melodic hooks and captivating rhythms on “Suck Teeth” reveal L’Rain’s command over the experimental work — she is meticulous about building layers of sound on her many instruments. 

Had L’Rain pursued a more traditionalist style of songwriting, or further fleshed out Fatigue’s catchiest moments, the record might be an easier listen, but not as rewarding. The album’s unduating moods and non-linearity mirror the unpredictability of human emotion, and the up and down nature of personal change. To help decipher this album, Switched On Pop’s Charlie Harding spoke with L’Rain at JBL’s flagship store in SoHo in front of a live audience.

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices