In the long lineage of confessional singer-songwriters, Rafay Rashid has quietly emerged with a personal account on his new solo album Kitchen Weapons. Removing the bravado, swagger, and character of his ‘20s-dominating band Ravi Shavi, we glimpse Rashid opening up his journal and like a sommelier on some remote vineyard, pairing those entries with an array of fitting sounds, voices, tempos, and influences.
Opening with “Landlines” – a slow, staccato ballad all in on the downbeat piano, strumming guitars, and minor-fourth-resolved chords – the tone for this album immediately sets this project apart from Ravi Shavi. (I always thought of Ravi Shavi as fully Rashid with a band behind him, but this solo effort leads me to think that Ravi Shavi was a more band-oriented effort and this is something much different.)
“The album is so autobiographical that it only made sense for me to put this out under my own name,” Rashid says. “It’s charged by the fuel of coming to terms with my life as it really was. I think with a band there’s a certain desire to transcend the personal into something universal; this allowed me to just really stick in the pocket of relaying my own personal narrative. Oh, and it’s pretty much a break-up album, but also about addiction and growing up in America as a Pakistani immigrant, so it all just felt too personal to come from anywhere else. Parts of it just felt like writing in a journal.”
For those folks who have come to appreciate the garage pop aura of Ravi Shavi, they will be pleased to hear that same warm, tube-filled reverb sound on this effort. The overall ascetic remains Ravi-Shavi-esque in terms of production and tone, but has an analog feel with stand-out individualistic instrumentation that taps the various talents of Robbie Crowell, Amatto Zinno, Liz Isenberg, Steve Delmonico, Nick Politelli, Florence Wallis, Chris Ryan, and John McCauley of Deer Tick.
“Dennis Ryan was the mastermind behind the overall production and I trusted his vision completely,” Rashid notes of the producer/engineer/drummer and co-writer of arrangements. “The piano we recorded all the tracks on is slightly out of tune, so maybe that’s my signature piano tone now. I think it fits with how kind of messed up I was at the time of recording it. But, looking back, it was also like a moment of clarity while
writing the songs.”
Each track stands out individually, with “Monogamy” having a kind of ‘60s bedouin, equatorial discotech dub vibe that sounds wide open to live jam sessions and in a snap, the next track “Lizards and Iguanas’’ hits with slinky trombones, soprano sax solos, and duet vocals. Still ahead are tight, almost electronic-sounding drums and simple piano, accordion, and violins, as the tracks play forward. “I think this was the first album to not use my signature beat-up Traynor tube amp,” says Rashid.
The album release show took place July 21 at Machines with Magnets and Rashid is busy promoting the album, touring with Deer Tick, followed by plans to record with Lookers in the fall, and Ravi Shavi this winter.
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