Review Summary: Chillin'.
With Where I'm at Now
, S. Raekwon (Steven Raekwon Reynolds) has created a wholly accessible yet fairly unique experience. The album is rooted primarily in pop, featuring many of the genre's calling cards from sleek production to well-defined hooks. This formula is laced with elements of R&B and hip-hop - mostly in the beats and percussion - as well as traces of indie-pop and pastoral folk. The resultant sound is very lush, but also also rhythmic, soulful, and memorable. Basically, it's the perfect album to put on, sit back, and chill out to.
The assumption based upon that description would be that this is pleasant background music, and although I'd prefer to coin it as "mood music" or "atmospheric", they're all essentially accurate. Where I'm at Now
doesn't demand your attention, it simply washes over you like a cool wave. 'Darling' floats in gently with its beautifully harmonized hums and romantic gestures ("I wanna be wrapped in your shape / I wanna be held in your arms "), while 'Kissing Behind Your House' pulls you in like the tide with its lavish acoustics and insanely infectious verses. 'Anywhere 4 U' sees S. Raekwon inject those aforementioned R&B undertones, while 'It's No Thing' just barely flirts with the fringe of what could be considered hip-hop beats. The soulful vibe of 'T.D.T.K.A.' was influenced by S. Raekwon's participation in the 2020 United States protests against police brutality ("It’s not that we don’t look so far apart, and we’re different shades of brown / But honestly they’d see us both the same"), and gives the album a sense of modern presence. As the record's brief thirty-one minute runtime winds to a close, we're treated to two breathtakingly elegant piano ballads in 'Darling (Reprise)' and 'Don't Leave', both of which attempt to tug at heartstrings and largely succeed. There's a wide range of genres and topics covered here, but it's all seamlessly interwoven into a tracklist that feels satisfyingly smooth.
Where I'm at Now
marks an intriguing intersection between rural genres such as indie-folk and more traditionally urban ones like hip-hop/soul/R&B. It also manages to juxtapose romantic/introspective lyrical passages with ones that border on the sociopolitical. These fusions certainly aren't executed in the most experimental of ways, and the record itself feels pretty casual, but it's an interesting gateway into the career of Steven Raekwon Reynolds. Where he goes from here is anyone's guess, but even if he stays the course, then we're sure to be in for a handful of laid back but thoroughly enjoyable pop outings. That alone makes his music worth putting on your radar.