The love song is the one irreplaceable staple present across music's entire geographic, stylistic, epochal, and vocational expanse. And why wouldn't it be? Love is certainly the theme that drives music and even art as a whole the most. Almost every artist - regardless of definition - has undertaken the impossible task of defining what it does or doesn't mean to them. And yet, the well has never run dry.
But, not all love songs are created equal. There are the good and the bad, the overdone and the raw, the schmoozed and the sexually-abrasive, which all somehow fall under its continuously fanning umbrella. But the best love songs aren’t only honest, relatable, and emotionally evoking, they are also timeless.
Relevant as they were the day they were written, history's most celebrated love songs have never done anything except become more universally relatable and beloved. And that's because of the simple fact that some intrinsic thing within us - a something that has driven love and lust since the beginning of time - remains a force more powerful than any of us would like to admit. Whether you define love as an impossibly great, mysterious force or a simple chemical response to sharpen our survival rate, the central fact remains the same – love, or the illusion of its existence, is utterly necessary. While humans may continue to (d)evolve, that something within us does not. And that something is captured in some way or another in every timeless love song.
It's why you don't judge someone belting both parts to Ain't No Mountain High Enough as they drive by you on the freeway. It's why you don't question the motives behind that poor, drunken soul putting the entirety of his heart and lungs into I Will Always Love You at karaoke. It's why instead, you sing along with him.
A good love song is bigger than any of us and has the power to connect beyond simple love and lust - instead it connects us on the basis that (almost) all of us understand the elation and the pain behind the timeless ballads. We are all lovers and lusters in our own ways, and we are all heartbroken and emotionally unstable from time to time. The love song is the reset button we use to correct or wallow in that emotional instability, the tool we use to indulge in our inexplicable underlying desires, the words and the emotions we wish to express ourselves but lack the ability or the drive to do so.
And so, we let the artists gifted with that talent to do the speaking for us.
If anyone in the current scene is a clear example of the talent required to evoke emotion and inspire love, it's New York R&B songstress, Raveena. Though shockingly early on in her career, Raveena carries with her an emotional and creative maturity that clearly and presently shines its light into her songwriting and vocal ability. Her music tends to align with the direction of R&B perhaps most closely related in sonic texture to the buttery, floaty sounds of the Motown era. And with thats sound's successful application, comes her music's ability to boast a sort of timelessness so difficult to attain. It's the same timelessness that has long made Motown not only an era unbound by the countless stylistic changes since it's reign, but a movement that caused the spark of so many others.
Obviously, it's a bit premature to claim Raveena's influence so grand,ss but do yourself a favor and go listen to a few of her tracks. If Only, Wherever You Go, and her most recent, Honey, receive our endorsements as personal favorites but any selection from her canon will prove our point. All her tracks have come out during that last couple years, mostly as parts of her debut EP, Shanti. But any of them could have just as easily been produced half a century ago amidst releases from Marvin Gaye and the Temptations. They could have come out during the 90's R&B Golden Era. But instead, they were released in the modern scene - one so violently bubbling over with soul and R&B talent that it may one day be referred to with the name of a precious metal as well - yet somehow, her sound doesn't lose any of its modernity or relevancy across any era to which it could have belonged.
While a select school of artists spread across soul and R&B's impressive expanse achieve their timelessness through the route of their styling's past, there is another direction with which to unearth something worthy of being remembered for decades to come. Pure innovation with the usage of the advantages only present in the present births the experimental sub-stylings that one day come to be something much more. At the head of future R&B and experimental neo-soul is the transcendental approach of UK soul overlord, Sampha. His style faultlessly flows across the spectrums of genre. His vocals bridge the gap between the past, present, and future. In fact, when discussing Sampha's creative sphere, the word transcendental in itself transcends transcendence. He is completely and utterly unbound by anything but his own imagination - which, we should add, hasn’t yet reached any sort of wall.
Though often branded with the same out-of-date labels used to organize other artists with an amazing set of pipes and a knack for the undertone and the emotional, Sampha and artists like Raveena share many fewer similarities than their vast and apparent differences. Sampha's approach is one wholesomely correlated and intertwined with experimental electronic production. Similar to a school of other modern British soul singers headwinded by artists like Sam Smith, Sampha has found his direction and niche through the electronic circuit.
And yet, there is something undeniably relatable that drives his music towards a point of understanding and cohesion with artists fonder of analogue instrumentation and a more present influence of the past. And that something is that something we've been discussing all along. That emotion. That sex. That timelessness. A simple listen to his complex 2017 project, Process results in an overwhelming surge of emotion from love, lust, and triumph to pain, heartbreak, and recovery. He too is a creator of the emotionally-evoking, the honest, the relatable – the love song – albeit in his own, very unique manner.
Differences aside, that innate ability to so accurately express the broad range of emotion that comes along with love is what would bring the music of Raveena and Sampha together and result in a collaboration timeless in its stylistic, thematic, and vocal deliveries. A love song that transcends the many applications of its own definitions, and through it, is a humble representation of love itself.