5 Songs, 15 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Formerly recording under the name White Dress, Arum Rae Valkonen re-emerges in dazzling colors on Warranted Queen. A few years back, she might’ve been mistaken for an understudy to Amy Winehouse—but as this EP makes clear, the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter has much wider ambitions than treading a strictly retro-soul path. Her husky pipes carry more than a hint of Delta blues, yet also seem compatible with heartland rock and neo-Motown settings. Producer Sanford Livingston takes a freewheeling approach with his studio client in these tracks, blending electronic and organic elements without worrying about musical eras or genres. Arum Rae rises to the occasion with vocal performances that range from the satiny to the rough-hewn, all delivered with a sort of bruised innocence that deepens the impact of the lyrics. The dark club swirl of “2001” lets her deliver a heartbroken lament with a Middle Eastern undercurrent. She shifts into Americana mode for the title track, plunges into distorted blues-rock on “I’m Smoke,” and rides waves of horn-powered R&B on “Something’s Happening to Me.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

Formerly recording under the name White Dress, Arum Rae Valkonen re-emerges in dazzling colors on Warranted Queen. A few years back, she might’ve been mistaken for an understudy to Amy Winehouse—but as this EP makes clear, the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter has much wider ambitions than treading a strictly retro-soul path. Her husky pipes carry more than a hint of Delta blues, yet also seem compatible with heartland rock and neo-Motown settings. Producer Sanford Livingston takes a freewheeling approach with his studio client in these tracks, blending electronic and organic elements without worrying about musical eras or genres. Arum Rae rises to the occasion with vocal performances that range from the satiny to the rough-hewn, all delivered with a sort of bruised innocence that deepens the impact of the lyrics. The dark club swirl of “2001” lets her deliver a heartbroken lament with a Middle Eastern undercurrent. She shifts into Americana mode for the title track, plunges into distorted blues-rock on “I’m Smoke,” and rides waves of horn-powered R&B on “Something’s Happening to Me.”

TITLE TIME

About Arum Rae

Born Arum Rae Valkonen in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Arum Rae is a singer and songwriter whose eclectic style takes influence from blues, soul, and vocal jazz. Raised partly in Colorado Springs, Savannah, Georgia, and Austin, Texas, she began singing as a kindergartner. With the guidance of a high-school music teacher, she went on to study at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, only starting to play guitar and write songs during her time there. Briefly using the moniker White Dress, she released her first solo material in 2004. By then, her family had relocated to a farm in Virginia, where she self-recorded her bluesy debut EP, 2005's Arum Rae, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar. She enlisted a band that included electric guitar, pedal steel, upright bass, and drums for her full-length debut, 2006's Too Young to Sing the Blues.

Valkonen moved her base to New York City and spent several years on the road, which included opening spots for the likes of Willie Nelson, B.B. King, Gary Clark, Jr., and the Black Keys. In 2012, a song she co-wrote with the Civil Wars' John Paul White, "If I Didn't know Better," was performed by cast members on the ABC series Nashville. She recorded her own version of the song for an acoustic LP of the same name, issued that October. She then headed to the studio with producer Sanford Livingston for the more indie rock-minded Warranted Queen EP, which saw release in April 2014. Before the end of the year, she followed it with the John Congleton-produced Waving Wild EP. Arum Rae was widely labeled "indie soul" by the arrival of her genre-merging EP Loners, issued by Secret Road Records in mid-2016. It featured an updated version of "If I Didn't know Better." A year later, Relativity Entertainment released the more rustic Sub Rosa, which was accompanied by tour dates in support of Rodriguez. ~ Marcy Donelson

HOMETOWN
Colorado Springs, CO

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