Rheo Uno

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"Said It Before" by Bally & Boom featuring Rheo Uno


It's not exactly unknown for me to come across a track or artist unexpectedly whom I later review: it must however be more rare for an artist to find herself unexpectedly on a single.

 Nevertheless, this is what has happened to Rheo Uno recently.

 There she was, minder her own business, recording one of her own compositions in Fidget Studios in Coventry when Boom of Bally & Boom popped in to invite her to sing on their track, which she did with demur nor delay.

 Now the single "Said It Before" by Bally & Boom featuring Rheo Uno is officially out on Icarus Music.

 A drum & bass track from specialists in those arts, Rheo would say that it's not normally her area of work normally (which is true enough), yet since most, if not all of her own music is dance friendly & aimed at club audiences too, she clearly was able to adjust to their expectations as if she had been working in the genre for years.

 Quite apart from the quality of her voice, where I think the duo scored in asking her to guest is that despite the brutal onslaught & machine led beats which the song builds up to (after kidding us a little with the gradual building up from a sparse intro which might, at a pinch, have come from one of her own tracks), Rheo lends a sense of humanity & helps add a grounding counterpoint to the ferocity around her. This contrast is never a bad thing in any genre and takes it somewhere it doubtlessly would not have gone otherwise (the general feeling that it was heading for outer space until Rheo tweaked the direction of flight).

 What is also interesting is how her voice, which normally nestles within arrangements designed for her own songs, rises to the challenge & manages to sit on top of a much louder & aggressive backing: clearly she had a few extra power settings held in reserve that "Said It Before" showcases.

 Yes you've heard Rheo Uno groove, you have heard her smooch, swing & even get a little raunchy, but this outing, unplanned as it was, adds another facet of what she can do if it suits her to her CV. It also showcases her adaptability to the creations of others & her capacity to respond to lyrics she hadn't written herself. I guess too, given the speed of how this collaboration unfolded, that there was little if any prepping time & so this must have been close to an improvisation as far as she was concerned. And she has pulled it off with aplomb.

Look out too for the video accompanying the single which is most impressive, though while enjoying it, spare a thought for Rheo as she was filmed in conditions of -40. You can find it at


 I'm sure she is proud of this single, but whether that means she would consider a Rheo Uno drum & bass single in the future, who knows. From what she tells me, at the moment I think she has it filed as an interesting collaborative side project.

 In the meantime, she is back focusing on her own creativity & I gather is currently working on three new tracks and feels  "…they're getting better and better" which sounds confidence indeed given how well her recent run of releases has been received: I gather last month's "Let You Go" is getting a lot of streams, airplay & praise. As well it might.

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"Let You Go" by Rheo Uno


I have two excellent pieces of news from Rheo Uno for you.

Firstly, she has been nominated in two categories (Best Original Artist, and Best Female Vocalist) in the 2022 NREA Awards which recognise the hard work and progression of talented performers from across the North of England, the Midlands, Wales and Scotland. I'm sure you'll join me in wishing her all the best for these: she certainly could hardly be beaten by anyone else for hard work nor talent could she?

Secondly, as extra evidence of her admirable qualities, she has a new single "Let You Go" due for imminent release (on March 22nd), the follow up to "Can't Breathe" which we reviewed in January. Rheo really is on a roll at the moment with a stream of really strong singles such as "Señorita" and "Good Girl" in addition to "Can't Breathe" perhaps demonstrating her frustrations at a fallow year or so due to COVID-19 and a desire to pick up the momentum of her career but also showing how hard she worked at composition during that period, using it fruitfully to give her the material to issue a succession of new songs at frequent intervals & remind the world of what she has to offer.. frankly no wonder she has been noticed by awards organisations but this simply would not have happened without her seizing the initiative over the past few months.

 Rheo clearly has a strong idea of what she wants to write about & that she not only produces songs in her own voice but stamps them through with her own personality to great effect, does not mean that she is resistant to collaborating in order to get the best possible track. In this case she worked with regular collaborator Charlie Drew and with Aearon Whyte.

 At this point, I'll say something which was one of my immediate responses to "Let You Go" and that's how much I appreciate humour in music. For sure there are very many serious & heartbreaking songs I respect & love, but before writing this article, I sat down & thought about how many of the many artists I admire & personally enjoy & how many of those who are generally regarded among the greatest of all time have used humour in their work at some point & I couldn't think of too many who had not. Conversely, I find that many of the artists I don't think too much of come across as pretty humourless.

 Thus one aspect of Rheo's artistry that I particularly rate is this tendency: in fact she seems to be developing it more & more & I like it. If "Good Girl" saw her tongue thrust deeply into her cheek (she felt it gave a "…glimpse of my cheekier side…") then she herself feels the new song goes even further in this direction.

This to me is a sign of an artist so completely confident with herself & her image that she feel very comfortable playing with it & even subverting it: and I think not only does she deserve credit for this but it's probably what draws audiences to her. Yes this is an outwardly glamorous artist who seems very comfortable in the classiest of social settings, but she hasn't forgotten where she came from nor lost her down to earth side.

 Thus we get another immaculately crafted & produced (by Monarchy Music who thankfully present her voice as it should be heard without smothering it in the ubiquitous effects which can wreck individuality & personality) pop/dance thriller .

 I suppose (though it sounds nothing like it), the song reimagines the Beatles' "Drive My Car" for the Age of the Uber, taking the "riding" metaphor to lengths impossible in 1965 and cheerfully raises the bar on articulating "lust and attraction" to new heights.

As she said to me about her current run of songs "…there's a theme forming here but don't judge me!" and I can assure her that I don't think anyone will: I certainly do not. Throughout the history of popular music these matters have been frequently the subjects for songs, often in as daring language as was possible (think of "Shake, Rattle and Roll" or Bessie Smith's "I Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl") so what we have from Rheo is thoroughly in this tradition, just in the saucy terms of 2022. And what's wrong with that? Frankly I suspect most people dancing to her songs probably have such matters firmly in their minds anyway….

 Rheo is simply damn good at writing such songs.

 The joy about her writing is that she combines a lightness of touch in what she creates ("..there are such serious events going on around us a bit of light relief may just keep us all going..."), so each individual song comes across with honesty & spontaneity, yet behind the scenes there is such a high work ethic of someone prepared to put in the hard yards to make it professionally.

And it's paying off: Rheo's streaming figures are most impressive & clearly the story about her talents is spreading: what we have known for a while, others are picking up on. Winning awards would both validate this & open yet more doors for her to move onto yet another level. May that come to pass in 2022.

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"Can't Breathe" by Rheo Uno


Like most people, I'm never averse to pleasant surprises & this track dropped so out of the blue that fifteen minutes before starting to write this review, I had no idea it existed. I'm talking about today's single from Rheo Uno, and it's called "Can't Breathe".

As you'll know from my reviews of "Señorita" and "Good Girl" from the latter part of 2021 (and both tracks have had the success that they deserve, with 166,000 streams & 111,000 respectively & increasing all the time), she worked hard in the studio last year & created an abundance of great new songs to get a powerful momentum coming out of the difficult circumstances of the last couple of years.

Once again written in collaboration with Charlie Drew of Monarchy Music (also her producer), the song is something of a deliberate reconnection with her roots: although she is intent on developing her craft & evolving as a writer (and as one of the most played local artists on BBC Introducing in 2021 she has clearly got a firm, established platform to launch herself further & wider in 2022: and as you know from earlier reviews, her internationally appealing brand of dance music won her overseas fans from the start), she clearly does not want to forget (or let us do so) where she came from musically.

Hence "Can't Breathe" is an unashamed plunge back into commercial dance orientated pop with lyrics she identifies as "..self explanatory, no deep meaning just irresistible attraction, carefree fun.."  and sometimes that's what you need to do of course: especially if ultimately you are aiming for audiences who do not necessarily speak English well, on whom some of the lyrical nuances of the last few singles might be a little lost: there is a sort of popular music Esperanto I guess in which such tracks are composed. The key question is "will "Can't Breathe" get them dancing?" and to that the answer is "yes it will for sure".

A bubbly (and burbling) sound with great phat retro synth sound underpinning it (has Rheo ever created a track without some gleeful vein of fun running through it?), as her quotation above makes clear, the metaphor in the heart of the song is not a difficult one to decode.

As infectious as her music always is, this track needs no vaccine and will do us a great deal more benefit than certain other contagious agents around at the moment.

Arriving unheralded, I hope people spot that it's out there (I just added it to the current "Hot Music Live Presents" Spotify playlist and I'm sure I shan't be the only one) as it's a bright sparkle on this misty January morning.  I respect her strategy for reminding us of her earlier stylings and taken with the general progression of what she is currently doing, I think it helps cover a broad range of expectations for what Rheo Uno music might be. 

She is one of those local artists who obviously has ambition to develop her career artistically & commercially & with the talent and vision to do so. Most people in that category were potentially stymied by the pandemic. Momentum is everything in the music business when you are rising, and months and months with no live appearances nor new releases and any progress beforehand can count for little as the more fickle parts of the media forget who you are. This should not be the case with Rheo Uno: she was able to keep very high quality new music coming out even in the darkest months and was fortunately able to write & record an impressive stockpile of new & distinctive tracks which could then create a new and incisive momentum once the scene started reheating. Given both the statistics from where she is now plus the critical approval, 2022 has huge potential for a year of further breakthroughs for Rheo Uno.

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"Good Girl" by Rheo Uno


It seems only yesterday that I reviewed Rheo Uno's single "Señorita" for you (it was about a month ago in fact) and here we are again for her latest one "Good Girl" (due to be released this Friday, 29th of October, though it's already up on Apple music for you to check out). It's very encouraging to number her among the pleasingly large number of local artists covered by this magazine who seem on prolific (and high quality) form despite the practical and psychological constraints of the past months. I'm most impressed how so many have overcome them and produced work at least at the level of their pre-pandemic material & in most cases (including with Rheo) soaring to new heights. She is even one who (like Bethany Dyson/Ivy Ash) took the courageous step of a rebrand during the lockdown.

We've of course had many pandemic written tracks to enjoy of late: some very specific to the experiences, others defying them. Now we have one of those actually written (with Charlie Drew) since things became a bit easier for collaboration.

Rheo herself feels that this song offers a "…glimpse of my cheekier side…". For those of you who have looked at her visuals and maybe checked out her parallel career as a model, you'll see that she offers a very powerful image, replete with sexuality and a high class of sultry projection. This of course goes hand in hand with her music and the two complement each other very effectively. Most of her songs do reflect the image & lifestyle she portrays in pictures (and it does appear a very glamorous one at all times), so I'm not entirely surprised  at her wanting to be a bit "cheeky" nor explore a theme of "how Bad can a Good Girl get?" which was the lyrical starting point for the song. However, Rheo's tongue is definitely somewhere in the vicinity of her cheek while being cheeky (difficult I'm sure while singing) and while she plays the role of coquette with ease, there is too much good humour to believe that she herself is capable of much true wickedness. Flirting maybe, but as for hurting people I think not.

This humour & light heartedness is something I've touched upon in previous reviews and it's one of the keys to Rheo's appeal I believe: it reinforces the sense of truth in her voice & assures us that the song reflects her true character. There is an awful lot of material out there, especially in the most commercial end of the music scene which simply doesn't ring true enough for me as the singer is allegedly expressing emotions which seem too extreme to be true. If and when Rheo Uno's work becomes familiar to such wide audiences, I think it will come as fresh breath of air which listeners can more readily identify with. The fact that she doesn't showboat her vocals (as far too many do) reinforces this impression. Rheo externally comes across as a very glamorous personality as I've said, but her music tends to balance this by suggesting that this does not make her exclusive & remote, but there is a real person you can identify with there too. At which point I must also credit Rheo & her producer (who is co-writer Charlie Drew) for having the taste & discernment not to process her voice to sound like everyone else (sorry: that's an exaggeration: as you know, no-one we cover in this magazine falls into that hideous category, but the charts are sadly dominated by those who do).

This is in fact the first of ten tracks Rheo has made with Charlie (he has also been responsible for the vocal production on her last few releases) and she reports herself to be very happy with this "..real creative connection.."

"Good Girl" is above all a fun track, bringing some sunshine into these darker days. "Señorita"  of course evoked warmer climes last time, but if that song was as I described "…Rheo Uno, with an insouciant elegance, one who can glide through a song as well as she can bounce through…", then "Good Girl" swings back to the bouncier side of her character: sassy and bold. What I also loved about the track was the use of so many unusual sounds: starting with what sounds like (presumably synthesised) finger clicks very high in the mix (never heard that before) and various, often retro synth & drum sounds, which tend to add to the sense of fun pervading.

This is now the fourth release as ‘Rheo Uno' and you can't fault any of them for quality and managing to sound different each time: one can only hope that sooner rather than later, the wider world sits up & takes notice.

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"Señorita" by Rheo Uno


I get extremely intrigued by what artists occasionally say about their own work. Obviously as a reviewer I sometimes (and only when I feel it's an accurate assessment and not knee jerk hyperbole) rate something as possibly being "their best so far". Many artists (at least the ones I review) usually err on the side of caution and wait for popular comment before rating their own work, which I think is a healthy sign. However on the odd instances where their enthusiasm for the fruits of their own creativity boils over into dubbing a track a personal favourite, I think one should take especial notice.

In this instance, I must say I take Rheo Uno's comments about her new single "Señorita" (out tomorrow) very seriously and with much respect. This is enhanced by my reaction to her previous two releases under this new brand as I felt that her debut under this new, augmented name, "Wife Me?" was especially strong and its follow up "Show Me", her first released composition of the new regime as the earlier single was written earlier, even more so.

Nevertheless, Rheo's enthusiasm for this new one is infectious and it is a real delight to witness an artist so confident in what she is doing & so obviously enjoying herself. Such attributes naturally help shape the glories of the song. Rheo clearly aims for perfection in her art (both writing & production) and the finer details of "Señorita" as with all her previous work indicate much hard work & thought as well as love. However the obsession with such matters can often result in antiseptic songs devoid of true character and passion yet Rheo seems aware of this too & "Señorita"  bubbles with authenticity & honesty.

Dabbling into Iberian culture can often, in the right hands (let's suggest the likes of ABBA or Madonna?) provide a very interesting variation providing it's not a trick you play too often & it's one you play with taste. The other end of the spectrum being of course the ghastly chart successes of material aimed at reminding returned holidaymakers of sangria drenched Spanish hotel discos. Thankfully Rheo is firmly at the classy end of this particular dichotomy.  There are plenty of Spanish musical and lyrical clichés available to her, all of which she ignores. In fact what you get is pretty much the epitome of what Rheo Uno music seems to be intended to be: well wrought danceable pop, in this case dusted with Latin elements with the softest and subtlest of touches.

I'm guessing that this may contribute to why she rates it so highly herself: it demonstrates what she can do with a light approach. "Señorita"  is certainly much less upfront than its two predecessors and not only is this contrast useful (and indicative of a broad range) but also it seems one with an appeal to a slightly more mature audience: this is cool Rheo Uno, with an insouciant elegance, one who can glide through a song as well as she can bounce through one. An adult accustomed to the finer experiences of life and as the song's lyrics suggest, a cosmopolitan individual at home in exotic and sophisticated cultures and able to express herself within them.

Created with the collaboration of Erim Ahmet and Charles Drew,"Señorita" is the third really excellent Rheo Uno release. I understand that her new profile has, with the success of the first two singles, risen in online following spectacularly, so I confidently expect that to continue. Although we can be proud that she is a local artist, her music is totally universal in appeal and I'd like to think that a national and thence international status is something which will come for her. She feels she is on a roll & upwards trajectory right now & I certainly am happy to endorse & agree with that. Viva Rheo Uno.

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"Wife Me?" by Rheo Uno featuring Chxmpion


Unfortunately, it has been over a year since I last wrote about a Rheo release in the magazine and a similar timespan since her "Down For You" ...
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