Album Review: Raye Zaragoza, ‘Hold That Spirit’

The songs on Raye Zaragoza’s new album unfold spaciously, exploring the nooks and crannies of the human heart. The mostly spare sonic architecture of the music allows her to travel through the shadows of pain, loss, and anger, but to revel in the light of healing, love, and joy.

The opening track, “Joy Revolution,” written with AG and Connie Lim, and featuring MILCK, evolves slowly as if the singer is waking up to a new day and discovering the brilliance of the sun, the beauty of the world around her, and embracing all of it in the face of the darkness that might otherwise fill her life. The song soon blossoms into an rocking explosion of exultation in which the singer shouts: “I want to stand on a hill/And sing at the top of my lungs.”

The propulsive title track, written with Anna Schulze, rocks steady with crunchy guitars and a Stevie Nicks-like “Edge of Seventeen” vibe. Layers of circling acoustic guitar provide the foundation for the spiraling anthem to hope and affirmation of sisterhood, “Strong Woman,” while the gorgeous ballad “Still Here,” also an affirmation of community and resilience, rides on Zaragoza’s soaring vocals, crystalline piano chords, and ethereal background vocals. The tender “Romantic Thing #248” declares an openness to the possibilities of a loving relationship and the vulnerability that being intimate with another brings: “I wanna be myself with you.”

On the thrumming anthem “Sweetheart,” written with Schulze, the lead refuses to be anyone’s sweetheart and to try to live up to anyone else’s expectations as a lover or as a women in society. The haunting ballad “Bittersweet,” floating on swirling piano chords and Zaragoza’s pure and shimmering vocals, pulls out every emotional stop, conveying the aching sorrow, raw anger, and still-fresh joy of a broken relationship.

Cinematic in scope, Hold That Spirit is a little lyrical and sonic masterpiece.


Hold That Spirit is available HERE


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