Tinashe Fazakerley’s voice is in a league of its own. The man behind the enigmatic moniker Rationale, Fazakerley has no problem flowing effortlessly from velvety softness to soaring choruses, his vocals undeniably the hook that capture a listener’s attention. Thankfully, the vocals are not the only reason to pay attention to the London-based artist’s debut album.
The opening track “Re.Up” is a sensual gospel-influenced duet, swaying rhythms backing the hummed refrain “Ooh, I wanna be your lover.” A study in romance, “Re.Up” already has the feel of a timeless hit, the kind that countless couples will claim as ‘their song’ over the coming years. “Oil and Water” builds on “Re.Up”‘s silvery ambience, synths falling like raindrops in a mesmerizing pattern, contrasted by mournful lyrics.
The album kicks into a higher gear with “Loving Life,” Fazakerley’s vocals ascending to ever greater heights, and light percussion insistently pushing the track into the realm of urgency. “Loving Life” is a grandiose love song, the lyrics tuned to match Fazakerley’s capabilities, and to push the track beyond the calm reflectiveness that Rationale’s electro-soul style tends to induce.
“Prodigal Son” is a step away from the gentler poppy ambience of earlier tracks and towards something more gospel-inflected, Fazakerley’s vocals achieving a new depth of emotion. “Losing Sleep” takes a page from the 80s-pop handbook, centered around a groovy bassline and airy synths. The most radio-ready track on the album, “Into The Blue” sees the dynamic artist bring his shimmering production to bear on something more mainstream, resulting in a spacious, high-flying pop hit.
“Fuel To The Fire” takes on a new resonance in light of recent events, providing a soulful and optimistic look at overcoming the negativity in the world. “Tumbling Down” is a fierce, fast-paced barrage, packed with intensity and power from every angle. The album ends with a stripped-back, acoustic guitar ballad, allowing Fazakerley’s vocals a chance to stand out without competition. “Somewhere to Belong” is a synthesis of the album’s ethos, the conclusion of Rationale’s soulful explorations of love, happiness, and peace.
The most disappointing thing about this album is that only five of the songs are fresh, previously unheard material. Granted, the tracks take on a new meaning when placed in the context of the full album, but Rationale has given just enough new material to tide us over until the next release.
Each of the twelve tracks on “Rationale” share a mesmerizing ambience. Instruments seem to shapeshift under the subtle hand of Rationale’s transfixing production. Synths lend themselves to gentle riffs, then appear as gentle patterns of notes, played like rain drops falling. Each layer of sound is brilliantly intertwined with the others, so that if the listener allows their mind to drift, all that remains is an exquisite and graceful ambience.
“Rationale” is a gorgeous and ambitious release, steadfastly defying any genre and instead creating its own category of gleaming ambience, vivid lyrics, rich vocals, and vibrant emotion.
Favorites: “Loving Life,” “Into The Blue,” “Tumbling Down”
Similar to: Izzy Bizu, NoMBe, Moxi
Listen to “Rationale” here. If you like what you hear, listen to Rationale’s irresistibly dance-ready single “Reciprocate” as well.