"Don't Wanna Be In Love" by double award winning Rheo UnoReview
It's been more than two months since Rheo Uno released "Me Without You" and this Friday (30th), she's back with her latest, "Don't Wanna Be In Love"
If that sounds good news to you, then you don't know the half of it. The song has already had its live debut and that was in the context of Rheo performing at the North Regional Entertainment Awards on Sunday at which she won Best Female Solo Artist: so very many congratulations to her. And that is not the only competition she has won this week either: her song "Deep End" (co-written with Charlie Drew) has won the Best Electronic Dance Music prize in the Unsigned Only International Awards: quite apart from the prestige of being recognised at international level, what more could someone in Rheo's position dream of than recognition on this scale for both her writing & performing talents? Another artist whom our area can be justly very proud of.
I've often praised Rheo as one of those artists with the discipline & wisdom to hone her music to the highest level possible: there is such a lot of thought & discipline surrounding much hard work in her career, at the centre of which are beautifully crafted songs whose naturalness betrays little of such attributes and come across as Rheo simply expressing what's in her heart & mind. It's a tough trick to pull off, but it should be most beneficial to a sustained career & now it's clear that people who really understand these matters are recognising what's she's about.
Whether by design or just serendipity, the single which comes out at this important career moment is one particularly dear to her heart: "this is the track I've been bursting to share for at least 6 months, this is truly my energy, my sound" and in one of those "pretty high bar already" moments, considers it her "best yet".
Written once again with Charlie Drew and Amira Eldine (and produced by Monarchy Music, mastered by David Emery via Bright Star Records), I think I see what Rheo means about "Don't Wanna Be In Love". It's probably easier for an artist to pronounce a song as "their best" than it is for a reviewer. Especially given the praise I've given her previous singles, it's difficult for me to say something like that without appearing to diminish what went before.
Nevertheless, I think it's fair to say that Rheo, since her evolution to her new stage name & sound, has been exploring what her music sounds like & what sort of things she can now say in this style. To that extent, I am sure you can hear in the single a culmination of the musical exploration of the past months but also yet more confidence in what she is expressing (and that's a tricky one too as her lyrical individuality & confidence has always struck me as pretty high anyway). She certainly sounds like she's enjoying herself on this one.
Witty it definitely is, as her work tends to be. The theme of the song contradicts several of her other singles, so I think it is reasonably safe to suggest that she must be writing "in character" rather than wholly from her own personal experience (at least I hope that's the case as apparently it's based on a true story). It's actually another of those songs I tend to mention where the lyrics play against the upbeat music which I find such a powerful weapon for songwriters.
Inevitably though, the jauntiness of the tune gives a defiant spin to the words & that's frankly all to the good. One of the hallmarks of the progression she notes is the seriousness of the general topic (I hope the trademark tongue in cheek approach is only taking a temporary break) but the sassiness on display suggests that whatever her feelings right now, she is in control of them & taking the route she feels in her best interests & towards happiness: as she herself says: "It's about breaking free and living your best life, escaping a controlling partner and being true to your self.. How it's easy to allow yourself to be pressured into believing that someone is the right "fit" for you, but however scary, it's better to be on your own than with someone with a negative vibe, the type who overshadows everything else you're trying to achieve…So for me quite a deep concept, but as always presented in a positive, upbeat way, because life should be about the party and the people you're partying with".
Musically, as you know, the move from Rheo to Rheo Uno included a journey from dance orientation to something nearer pop (and certainly that has given her far more scope to expand her lyrical horizons) but none of the singles under the new name have been anything but danceable: this one actually (if you just focus on the music) is back to full on use of that style. It's an enduring strength & certainly one worth holding on to.
There really is no finer source for such matters than the artist themselves, so here's what Rheo has to say on the subject: "for the first time, I can actually say I am happy with my sound, it's who I am, not who I think I should be. I think this new sound I've been working on is bouncy and fresh, the fact I can sit and listen to myself on repeat is unheard of so it's safe to say I'm loving the way these new tracks are sounding."
Which is most interesting: I wonder if what has happened is that in making a bold creative move to stop herself from getting stuck in a rut eventually, Rheo has explored a range of musical styles but is now, to some extent, circling back to aspects of her older style, recognising where she is now as in some ways progressive & having revitalised her craft, yet needing to be grounded in what is at heart her own, personal approach? There is a strong sense here of taking ownership of her own sound: and frankly what really matters is her confidence to do that & not be swayed by others, however well meaning they may be. It's the only way forward to truthful writing isn't it?
To circle back myself to where I came in, everything is paying off for Rheo: not just in the measurable career moments: the awards, having Track of the Week with her last 2 singles on BBC Introducing, reaching number 14 on the Music Week Commercial Pop Chart, 500,000 streams on Spotify and now working with internationally renowned producer DJ Tom Enz , it's also the qualitative elements: feeling in control of her own creativity & that she is continuing to move forward as much with her artistry as with her career.
Oh and there is a video in the works, filmed by Nick Lee Shields at XYZ Studios which Rheo is equally excited about: watch out for that too….
The presave link for "Don't Wanna Be In Love" is this: https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/rheouno/dont-wanna-be-in-love-dwbil