Rafe’s Dilemma are a quartet best known for their storytelling, and for the eclectic mixture of influences which can be heard in their album, Rafe’s Dilemma. Featuring Jamil Sheriff on keys, Nel Begley on vocals, Katie Patterson on drums, and Pete Turner on bass, the group originally formed as a commission for Bolton Worktown festival. Rafe’s Dilemma released their self-titled album which narrated the story of ‘a family on the edge’ through spoken word, improvisation, and a range of soundscapes. Therefore, their new release ‘Give In’ is an unexpected yet welcome addition to their previous works, as it explores their own personal musical storytelling for the first time. Whilst their album Rafe’s Dilemma features a wide range of generic influences, including jazz, rock, electronic music, spoken word, and more, ‘Give In’ offers a new sound from the quartet. It’s a moving piece which immediately allows the audience to connect with the band through its harmonic qualities, its emotional lyrics, and its laidback groove.
Begley sings ‘You send in the river, send in the flood, and I can’t even swim’, immediately exploring the difficulties of being in a relationship when you are struggling with your own mental health. Through the metaphor of water, Begley ties together the emotions which she wishes to convey - the way in which it can overwhelm and envelope somebody, the way in which you need skill in order to escape the situation. The images used throughout the song create beautifully sad pictures, like ‘We’re stuck in the mud’ and ‘I don’t want to be your safety rope’. When the band hit the chorus, Turner's bass playing adds another layer of depth to the song, as Begley sings ‘let go’. The warmth of the piece is inspiring considering the almost tortured nature of the lyrics - it feels as though the band are conveying a sense of hope even despite the desperate situation depicted through the lyrics
‘Give In’ is a beautiful and moving track, allowing Rafe’s Dilemma to explore their own personal stories through music after being commissioned to tell the stories of other people. The harmonic ideas chosen by Sheriff are interesting and engaging, reinforcing the song’s emotional side. Begley’s vocals and the thematics of water really bring the piece together, alongside the satisfying groove provided by Patterson and Turner. ‘Give In’ is worth a listen regardless of genre preferences, as it’s an accessible and moving ballad which anyone would enjoy. Its warmth allows the listener to sink into the story, whilst challenging us emotionally through the lyrical topic - it’s a beautiful new release.
Review by Evie Hill