Sweet Baby Ray may boldly claims that he is no musician on his second experimental CD, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a voice. Working his way through disillusionment, disappointment, heartbreak and even brutal memories of domestic violence (which touch both on the betrayal of being hurt in the name of love and the ultimate realization that it is still a loss worth mourning), Ray comes out stronger than ever, proclaiming: “I am beautiful and proud. I am obnoxious and loud. But I am living.”
Like Chris Crocker before him demanding that the world leave Ray’s princess Britney alone (and the YouTube “celebrity” sensation that followed), Ray capitalizes on social media and its “anyone can be a media sensation” mentality to craft a 17-song opus that let’s him explore his artistry as a gifted writer through song lyrics.
Ray knows he isn’t a singer, and he often uses gimmicks to distort his voice as sonic melodies zig-zag through a tapestry of musical genres – “I Don’t Like You” may be the first mash-up of Miranda Lambert-esque country fiddles and haunting Enigma chants in the history of recorded music – but like most people in their mid-20s, he has a lot on his mind.
He has his own “Leave Britney Alone” moment on the biting “Stop,” but he gets to the heart of the matter in “At Heart” proclaiming: “I am no musician but a writer at heart. This is just an extension of my finely tuned art.” He explores the hope of lasting love on “Closer,” laments the one night stand mentality of the gay community in “Call Me.” and expresses his ability to forgive in “Blessed,” which also touches upon a new clean and sober life on the verge of success.
The heart of the album is “Remember Love,” which explores the pain of an abusive lover both physical and later emotional: “I sometimes miss you. I sometimes dream of you,” he laments. “The only guy I loved left me black and blue.”
But Ray clearly comes out the other side of his lover’s torturous abuses, reclaiming his life in “Free to Roam,” which brims with hope for Ray’s ultimate success. He may have been called “The Joker,” but a happy Ray is most certainly getting the last laugh as he is a survivor.
And that, is sweet and beautiful music to the ears of anyone who is rooting for him like this writer, who holds him dear to his heart. I am “Hypnotized” by how you continue to go after what you want and explore your greatest asset – your voice. Musician no, artist, YES!
Review by P-Bone