Christchurch based artist Keith Aaron has released his dreamy new EP ‘If You Understood’.
The picturesque flamboyance of the rain hitting my windows provides a perfect backdrop listening to this album. A fresh twist on the everchanging soulful sound of R&B and perfectly nestled between The Weeknd and Daniel Cesar; Keith Aaron’s musical soundscape is certainly reminiscent of ‘days gone by’ and ‘tender love and heartbreak’.
Born and raised in the Philippines, Keith Aaron is a singer/songwriter/producer. Taking influence from Boyz II Men, Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston and Bruno Mars it is little wonder that the album explores classic R&B musical structure with a plethora of lush vocal layers which only embellish a deliciously sexy bass. The heart-thumping 808s mix and meld within the tiniest corners of my cranium and I genuinely can’t help but blast the first song on max on my headphones (RIP eardrums because of decibels but also all in good faith and for the love of music…right?)
Blocked Off features a beautiful vocal mix. Aaron explores intimacy with the mic without the overly drowning in autotune, which is so often used in modern music. Autotune certainly has its benefits but I am glad it was minimally used in this song. By doing so it allows the listener to understand Keith Aaron on a more personal level that could be misinterpreted with an overly produced backing track. A romanticised guitar is complemented by the mysterious Ellieo’s sultry vocals which feature on this track. The track finishes on an imperfect cadence which came as a surprise to me; regardless I think this artistic direction was taken to create a feeling of suspense leading into the storyline of the EP.
The EP is derived from pure inspiration and experiences from Aaron’s life. Aaron’s mind is seemingly scattered in many different places with ideas chasing the rush of new emotions and crossing boundaries; love and heartbreak; beauty and suspense. Certainly, such feelings can become overwhelming but Aaron describes creating this EP a cathartic process which allowed his deeply personal emotions to shine through this beautifully enriched body of work.
If You Understood is the title track of the EP and starts on a guitar riff which takes off from the imperfect cadence in which the previous track Blocked Off featured. It seems as if this created a very literal ‘pause’ in a moment in time for the listener. It feels like this song is the sequel to the song preceding. A lathering in nostalgia with the seemingly LoFi x 90s production shines through in this song. The backing vocals are a standout – providing a riff in its own right. The listener oversteps into a sonic gelatin pool filled with sugar-sweet heartache and yearning. A tastefully rhythmic bridge creates a shift in focus to the subject matter of the song. Riddled with secretive subliminal messages of the previous dejection and lost love, the more ‘matter of fact’ viewpoint creates an affinity with infatuation.
Lost It starts on a suspecting 90s beat sample which is similar to Eazy-E’s ‘Boyz in the Hood’. In doing so, the energy of the EP rapidly shifts to a more spiteful side of Keith Aaron’s songwriting. The beginning vocal is filtered in such a way that it is difficult to not marginalise the lyrics as part of a phone call. The track is angsty and explores a sense of rebellion musically not yet explored in the EP. It is an enjoyable switch up from the previous two tracks. Much like a break-up, even if only subconsciously, Keith Aaron has perfectly created a ‘diss track’ against any wrongdoers with lyrics ‘no more fake smiles for me’ and ‘this sh*t too childish’. Each section of the song has a different rhythmic inflexion but melodically not moving too far. This is a sensible decision which creates a beautifully polished song, light enough to enjoy in the scorching sun or equally hot enough for scorching unwanted enemies.
Serenity ft. Moana is drenched in unrequited love and attraction. Aaron’s vocals are certainly much more the centrepiece of the track. Aaron’s vocals really shine here – an exciting end to a tasteful EP. The mix is balanced and spacious and features non-overcomplicated production. With the intricacy of Moana’s voice, the track has an effortless soulful ability to paint a picture of new love and sensibility and sensuality.
Keith Aaron certainly oozes mouthwatering vocals and cradling basslines. Raw and licentious desires are subtly sprinkled on top of a beautiful lyrically structured EP.
At 10 years old Aaron moved to Christchurch, New Zealand. After discovering beat making videos on YouTube, at age 14 he started playing around and creating beats on FL Studio and throughout his high school years, he continued to write songs and make beats. In January of 2020, Aaron released an EP titled Private Pool Party. Since then he has released singles “Don’t Need a Lot”, “More to Share”, “Conversations” and “Why You Wanna Go”.
This rising artist is certainly one to watch!
Check out the EP below.