On the Anniversary of Raveena's 'Lucid' its Marginalized Strength Rings Anthemic
Evan Dale // May 31, 2020
One year ago to the day, it was raining. And if it wasn’t, it felt like it should have been. Lucid is warm – an emotional blanket not necessarily shielding its listeners from the cold, but granting them that extra layer of coziness – or perhaps a first layer of love and acceptance – that a blanket does on rainy days. And so, let’s just say that it was raining. Rain can be happy more than it can be sad. There is nothing inherently downtrodden about that which gives life more than almost anything else. And in many ways, Lucid is a celebration of an understanding around that misconception. Perhaps rain is cleansing and renewing, but outside of large-scale climatic events, it certainly isn’t a negative force, and neither is the aura with which Raveena and her music shine.
So much had changed in my personal life since the first time that I heard the Shanti EP – Raveena’s debut collection – while strolling through the streets of my then-home, Shenzhen. There was something reminiscent in its sound – the sweetness of classic soul music; the emotion of R&B – and yet it was also so different than the powerful works of her predecessors by the tune of her subtle aesthetic. Since then, Raveena has remained a consistent force of reflection and peace throughout all of that change and wandering – as I’m sure she has for all who have been along for her ride. Two years after from those rainy walks through Southern China and the innumerable, also rainy, places I lived in afterwards, soundtracked, too, by her sound, that supposedly rainy day one year ago was brought even more Springtime bliss by Lucid’s arrival. One year removed from the release of Raveena’s debut album, it’s storming again, though in many more ways than just literally. All this inclement weather is a perfect setting in which to reflect on Lucid, and how it and Raveena have evolved in their first year.
Lucid is the kind of project that doesn’t belong to any particular musical style. Somewhere in the floaty effervescence between Soul, R&B, and subtle funk, Raveena – like the greats in all of those realms’ histories – drives her music with emotion, statement, and pride before she defines it with preconceived stylistic restraints of the past. Thematically, emotionally, Lucid is first, a case study on femininity and maternal strength, most of it derived from Raveena’s personal highs & lows, of which Stronger is especially anthemic; interactions with other women – especially women of color from which Mama as a celebration of immigrant mothers, is rooted; experiences as a minority in modern society, towards which Lucid is more relevant than ever.
Like many great albums, yet like very few debut albums, Raveena’s Lucid is timeless, changing only in its contextual makeup to the shape of the needs of society around it. Call it modernity’s comfortable blanket on rainy days. Raveena has always been socially charged, active in her pursuit for necessary progression and togetherness for the marginalized groups to which she subscribes, and to those with whom she empathizes and supports. And through that lens, Lucid is her war cry, just as it was in 2019.
But 2020 is different. So much pain and suffering all coming to the surface at the moment of Lucid’s one-year anniversary is sad. But like rain, it can – and will – be happy much more than it could or would be downtrodden. On the one-year anniversary of Lucid’s release, its core, its heart, and its soul are more powerful, relevant, and anthemic than ever. It is an album of freedom, self-expression, self-love, overcoming, and togetherness. And though wrapped in the lining of sweet soul, sensual R&B, and dance-worthy funk, let us not forget where those stylings were also rooted.
Pain and trauma are art’s greatest soils. Raveena herself grew the gorgeous masterpiece that is Lucid from a life of struggle, hardships, and subsequent triumph – much of it at the hands of her position as an outspoken racial, sexual, and gender minority. And just like the beauty that arose from the pain, fight, and subsequent triumphs of her own experiences, beauty will, too, arise from all of the pain, and the necessary fight we as a society face in this moment.
It’s times like these that cement albums in history. And it’s historic moments like these that require great art for the powerful people of movements to subscribe to, relate to, and embody. There could not be a more appropriate album for the fight, the healing process, and the subsequent beauty than Lucid. There could not be a more poetic, prophetic moment for it to celebrate its one-year anniversary, than that which is marked with the death, the fight, pride, and the eventual triumph of the marginalized communities for which Raveena sings her songs of strength and beauty.
And to that, we say happy one-year anniversary to Raveena. Today might be a rainy day, but the comfort, acceptance, and warmth of Lucid is unparalleled in its identity to instill courage and beauty into a fertile future born of the necessary storms we have at hand.