When approached with music that is new to me, I do not look up anything about the artist until after I have taken the time to dive deep into their art. After listening to The Living Room by Raymond Revel, I was honestly shocked to learn he was born and raised in Burbank, California. That is because this album evoked visions of a small piano bar in Greenwich Village, people from every inch of the corner coming and going as Revel delivered his heart while tinkling the keys. It is a beautifully done record that presents honest storytelling in a genre I love most, and that is the coming of age variety.
Coming of age tends to take the mind to a place of adolescence, but many forget that just because one turns 18 and so on does not mean they are legit an adult and know what to do with their life or themselves. For me, The Living Room displayed that sense of being lost as a grown-up, that sort of confusion on what life is supposed to mean for one’s self. Take “Counting Clouds” for instance. This line, “…pointing our fingers at the world because we shed our innocence,” shines a light on the scenario of someone waking up to the so-called real world. This track plays well against other songs throughout The Living Room such as “Dear Future Me” and “I Met a Voice.” The latter reminds me of a song one might hear at an acoustic set during a pop-punk show.
Pop-punk in the delivery and content, but style-wise Raymond Revel stands strong as a singer-songwriter because, at the end of the day, he is a storyteller with a lot of tales to tell. A great song is one listeners can immediately envision and that is exactly what happens when “Mr. Shadow,” “Sirena,” and “Mason” come into play. The overall tone of the record, as well as his way with words, make The Living Room an album that any 20 or 30-something could pick up, listen to, and go, “This is me.” While that is the core group of people who world relate, the fact that Revel presents a sound that also harkens back to the days of simplicity in music that came with musical craftsmen in the ‘70s, make this something members of every generation could enjoy as well.
While every song has something someone will be able to latch onto, the most universal track has to be “Walls.” The story of someone who continuously builds up walls to avoid criticism from those around them, to avoid being hurt – that is something almost everyone can attest to. They can also attest to the fact that they know it is not the healthiest thing to do, which is something Revel also laments on throughout this standout track.
There are a lot of sort of somber moments in Raymond Revel’s storytelling, but something that never fails to brighten his tales is the musical arrangements as well as optimistic instances. One of those being “Something Good.” After a beautifully done intro, the song brings forth a sort of innocent optimism that is hard to shake and ignore. It is one of those songs that can turn one’s whole day around.
Despite sounding like a singer-songwriter in the heart of the hustle and bustle of New York City, Raymond Revel is an artist that was born and raised in sunny Burbank, California. He dropped his debut EP when he was still in high school and since The Beginning, he has released almost a dozen singles, been featured on Spotify’s “Discover Weekly’ playlist, and performed not only on his own but as a background singer, alongside a band, and as part of a cappella groups. The Living Room is his debut LP and with such attention to detail in terms of lyricism and poise, it will not be his last.
Written by Kendra Beltran