NPR Music's Tiny Desk Concert series has become a go-to spot for anyone who happens to be on tour in the States, especially if you happen to be a soul/R&B artist. Singer-songwriter Jordan Rakei took heed of this when his tour made a stop in D.C. last year, sitting down at the famed tiny desk for the first time to perform a selection of songs from his catalog.
The set focused heavily on Jordan's most recent album, 2019's Origin, kicking off with a jazzy take on his single "Say Something." The track, which calls on us to use our voices to bring attention to the modern ills of the world, might have a slightly somber message but it was as smooth and easygoing as it sounds on the record. He followed that up with "Mind's Eye," which started off slow and chilly before being warmed up with a syncopated rhythm and melody. While he started off on Rhodes for the track, he soon switched to upright piano midway through the performance, which added even more brightness to the song's sound.
He remained there for the next selection, "Talk To Me," which is from his 2016 album Cloak. The song acted as a showcase for his band, who followed his changes seamlessly as the song went from light and jazzy to disco-tinged and back again during its short runtime. He decided to end his four-song set on the solo tip with Origin track "Speak." The band left him to perform the The Handmaid's Tale-inspired track alone on the upright piano. The simple arrangement allowed for his lyrics to be heard clearly as he sings the song from the perspective of a woman living in a dystopian future.
Jordan Rakei has always been a unique voice in R&B since his debut EP Groove Curse and his appearance at Tiny Desk proves that his talent and message are something not to be slept on.