18 Feb 2020

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Raylee Bradfield - Album Review: Where Wildflowers Grow

01 Feb 2020 // A review by Isla Norman
South Island singer-songwriter Raylee Bradfield has always felt connected to nature. For five generations, her family has lived in the rugged edge of Aotearoa, surrounded by rolling hills and immersed in the vibrant changing of the seasons. Bradfield draws inspiration for her music from the way that nature can go from “flourishing to desolation to renewal”.

There is a fresh and authentic sound in Bradfield’s debut album Where Wildflowers Grow, and you can feel the atmosphere of spring in her music. The album kicks off with the steady Down I Go, which features a groovy syncopated rhythm in the chorus. It then moves into the slower, more pensive Give Me the Answer that ponders the feeling of being lost in life. Superbly arranged, the slide guitar and clean vocals allow the song to feel authentic and unspoiled.

Bradfield manages the pace of her album well by varying tempo and instrumentation enough to let each song shine on its own. From the swaying guitar based Lonely No More to the shuffling piano ballad that is Wounded Heart she pulls your heartstrings in all directions, musing loneliness and heartbreak. It’s refreshing to hear such a full, immersive sound without overproduction.

Themes of nature are woven through the album. Bradfield describes the need for a new beginning through the metaphor of washing her fears away in the river. A “new sky” and the image of running “towards the sun” represent hope for happier days to come.

Sold on You breaks the pensive nature of the songs that came before it with a more sensual shift in tone. At essence it’s a love song, but it’s worth mentioning the way that Bradfield captures the dazed, and comforting feeling of a good relationship. New Sky, the final track on the album is hopeful, with some dark undertones. Bradfield experiments with unexpected use of major and minor chords to play with mixed emotions. It’s a thoughtful note to end on.

Where Wildflowers Grow is an album to plug in for. Brew a cup of tea, find your favourite chair, and listen from start to finish. It’s the only way to do this immersive collection of songs justice.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )

About Raylee Bradfield

Hailing from farming country in South Otago, Raylee Bradfield is a rare gem in the NZ music scene. Her haunting melodies combine with poetic lyrics drawn from seasons of adversity, continuing faith and the ability to put herself in the shoes of the other. Early memories of her Mother & Aunty’s harmonies filling the home sparked a love of music that has continued to be inspired by the likes of Gillian Welch, Patty Griffin, Ryan Adams and Mavis Staples.

For two decades this soulful songbird has been quietly writing and releasing music, studying towards an Honours in Music, performing at events & festivals nationwide and teaching the next generation as a Vocal Tutor in Auckland performing arts schools. While Bradfield has 2 EPs under her belt, 2019 saw the release of her debut album Where Wildflowers Grow, a culmination of songs examining the complex facets of the human condition through hardship, rescue and new beginnings.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Raylee Bradfield


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