feature photo courtesy of @raveena_aurora
Raveena’s debut album explores healing in technicolor
Raveena’s voice is as smooth as honey. This would be a cliche way to describe her, if not for one of the first songs I listened to by her being aptly named “Honey.” It was my brother who initially discovered Raveena and introduced her music to me, much to my surprise. Okay, maybe not a surprise because we do have similar tastes, but Raveena is one of the few artists that I still listen to long after his initial introduction. I still remember his broken up texts: “Yo / check out / Raveena / Johnny / It’s the Last Time.”
Raveena’s album is a testament, an act of witness.
It’s been at least a year or two since that discovery, and I didn’t listen to her music all that much until she released her debut album, Lucid, in 2019. While Raveena has explored themes of sexuality and healing from trauma before, this was the first time she fully developed these experiences into a full album. The album takes you through a journey: one of Raveena’s growth from feeling heavy, like a stone, in her suffering to weightless, like a petal, once she’s overcome the season. Both of these feelings are depicted respectively in songs (also aptly) titled “Stone” and “Petal.” The process of overcoming trauma and the the subsequent lightness of accepting self love is depicted through the twelve tracks of the song. Coupled with harps and chimes, Raveena’s sweet voice is juxtaposed with hard-hitting lyrics about her traumatic experiences. Songs like “Salt Water” describe the pain and trauma inflicted by abuse, but “Stronger” shows how she began to heal through self love and through meaningful connections with nature. Raveena’s album is a testament, an act of witness: of the violence in her own life, of the diasporic South Asian community, of her bisexuality. These experiences remain both inspired and irreconcilable; Raveena has discussed them before, in “Mama,” a moving letter to her immigrant mothers and a tribute to all mothers, and “Temptation,” an exploration of sexual attraction and its fluidity.
Lucid speaks to pain in order to transcend it; Raveena’s creation, birthed from unimaginable heartbreak, enacts its own revolution, its own growth into something more resilient.
Raveena’s courage to speak candidly about her experiences and take open inventory of her emotions creates a rippling, almost captivating space for healing and discovery. No personal detail is off-limits if it can stimulate another’s growth. She even includes a snippet of her grandmother’s wise words in a track titled “Nani’s Interlude,” her advice complementing Raveena’s inherited desire for a full, joyful life liberated from its own wounds. Lucid speaks to pain in order to transcend it; Raveena’s creation, birthed from unimaginable heartbreak, enacts its own revolution, its own growth into something more resilient.
While the album is stunning, Raveena’s dedication to her music videos, styling, and makeup is what completely and utterly drew me into her dreamworld. Wanting to be a part of every step of the process, Raveena directed many of her own videos, and supervised the styling for each as well. With colorful clothing from emerging brands like OZCULT and Lirika Matoshi, Raveena really does remind me of a bubblegum fairy sometimes. She’s also become somewhat of a makeup icon, with her colorful eyeshadow looks ranging from glittery green to a blend of pink and yellow. Her pink-toned gemstone eye look for her cover of Sade’s “Lovers Rock” is one that I think about all the time (and the cover is truly divine--please do yourself a favor and give it a listen). Her vibrancy in life is reflected through her sartorial expression, and I always feel a beam of joy when I see Raveena grace my Instagram page.
I was lucky enough to see her in concert at UCSD on her Lucid tour, and Raveena’s warm and therapeutic energy is a real, immediate force. The warmth and joy seemed to overflow on stage, as her band exuded the same loving energy she did. Her stage decorations, made up of hanging flowers and paper mushrooms, reminded us that we were joining her in an open and loving space, something she reiterated to us throughout her performance. “I just want you to all know that you here, in this space, you are loved.” That just warms you from within, doesn’t it? She smiled as she sang each song, danced a little, and even stopped halfway during her set to ask us to join her in meditation. She asked us to take a minute, just a minute, to meditate with her. The small room quieted down to a hush, and everyone waited as Raveena instructed us to close our eyes. “Breathe in clear white light. Breath out and feel,” she gently says. A reminder to slow down, to take a moment with her. At that moment, it did feel like we were one collective, a community expelling negative energy and immersing ourselves in Raveena’s softness. We were one.
Raveena dropped another EP titled Moonstone on February 7th, only a week after she released a music video for “Headaches”. Depicting a dreamy New York City relationship on a downward spiral, the music video’s warm, soft red-purple toned palette matches the rose-colored haze of a new and confusing relationship. Moonstone was written at the same time Lucid was under production, and the calm, soothing tones that defined Lucid are translated onto this EP as well. I don’t know what we did to deserve new music so soon (especially with another new music video), but rest assured that I’ll be streaming that for the next few weeks too.