Published Feb 27, 2017Allan Rayman's Roadhouse 01 is an invitation to his sonic domain, a mysterious locale where the road less traveled leads to a soulful destination. The Toronto native has been quietly amassing a distinct and expressive body of work, one that skips across isles of rock, funk, hip-hop and soul. Last year's Hotel Allan was wickedly unheeded, but singles such as "Beverly" and "Tennessee" only hinted at the singer-songwriter's potential.
Rayman thrives on staying mysterious; he's consciously avoided doing press or staying active on social media, a "hiding in plain sight" approach that's enabled him to garner an enigmatic, Weeknd-esque type of buzz and following. But that's where the similarities end: While earlier output leaned heavily on longtime collaborator Moose's hip-hop percussion and sampling, Roadhouse 01 delves into gritty blues and rock. Rayman has a distinct and intentionally raw vocal approach, one that easily plays off the many musical modes he offers here.
Haunting opening track "Wolf" mines a blues-meets-classical groove, a melancholic ode to human savagery. The pop bounce of "December" aims for radio recognition and "Repeat" reps Toronto hard, relying on trap and R&B vibes and featuring vocals from Jessie Reyez. "Hollywood My Way" and "Head Over Heels" have the seasoned, cinematic feel of a maturing artist who clearly understands his sound, while "13," though not necessarily a standout, could be a Michael Jackson B-side.
Roadhouse 01 is meant to be consumed whole, each part speaking to an emotional solitude. In this regard, Rayman has succeeded in representing his unique vision; it's a soulful and rebellious endeavour that lays the groundwork for a noteworthy career.
Pick up Roadhouse 01 on red vinyl here. (Communion/Universal)