"Take It Slow" by Rheo UnoReview
When I told you about the last Rheo Uno release, "Blur The Lines", I held back (so as to let the light shine on the single in question) on telling you that I'd already also heard its follow-up, "Take It Slow" which came out yesterday and that she considered it yet another progression in her own work. This latter is of little surprise: Rheo has long ago, it would seem, made the strategic decision that the best ways to avoid being forced into a conceptual box of the (limited) thinking of others include not repeating yourself & adding variety to increased confidence & skill.
In fact "Take It Slow" is the first of a planned quartet of releases designed to showcase her more vulnerable side, though, if you've read my previous reviews of her work (and I hope that you have), you'll have noticed how often I have picked out emotional nuances in most of her tracks: ones which in the buzz of the dancefloor experience may pass the average listener by, but they are there nonetheless. She clearly feels however that foregrounding this side is helpful now to emphasise its existence.
Written once again with producer Charlie Drew & with Amira Eldine (as were "Don't Wanna Be In Love" & "Me Without You"), the song demonstrates Rheo's capacity to institute subtle variations in her style: she wants to carry her audience with her & no babies are thrown out with any bathwater here. Pretty much every element has its precedent in earlier work: the difference is in which one is given prominence on any given occasion. For one example she is pleased to have "..managed to fuse my love of R'n'B into the mix…" though you can find traces of it throughout her work & if the overall song is intended to mirror her sense of her own vulnerabilities, then one can find plenty of refection & self-deprecation (often cut with humour) in earlier songs too. In fact given that Rheo cites Dua Lipa amongst her inspirations on the "pop" side of her work, it's interesting that she extends her sense of fun into an optimism despite the song's subject matter, which somewhat distinguishes her from her model.. which I feel is admirable.
A Rheo Uno song would not be a Rheo Uno song without some element of sultriness which is in fact the description she herself applies to the bridge and her mission to "…reflect the intensity and sensuality of the emotions behind the lyrics.." is a skill mastered some time ago & developed further here.
It's certainly arguable that having three perspectives contribute towards a song with plenty of variety & nuance is helpful, but even acknowledging that factor, from Rheo's own account "Take It Slow" evolved considerably during the composition process, leaving traces of both its initial theme (which you may, as I did, not spot was Rheo's fascination with "Angel numbers": repeating sequences which some see as holding deeper meaning: Rheo has even had one tattooed upon herself) and the later one "..about self preservation and the early stages of a relationship, where the attraction is fierce but you're trying to hold back and not get in your feels too soon. It's so easy to get ahead of yourself and dive in too deep too quick". Which one would guess generated the title in time.
Musically, the song starts unusually for the artist with a brief string passage (I've rarely heard an intro last such a short time: it startles which is no bad way to grab the listener's attention) and while as danceable as her other work, it to a generally slower & more intense groove to reflect the words & contrast effectively with what you've heard previously from her. What else is new is the treatment of her voice. Given the strength of that attribute, while I understand that variety is a desirable commodity, it sounds more processed than I've heard before (is there a standard measure for such things I wonder?) and rather deeper in the mix than on earlier releases. Experimentation is to be encouraged, but on a personal note, I hope that next time out, it's permitted a little more prominence….
With the continuing artistic success comes the consequent higher profile, more streams & commendations from across the media: including from BBC Introducing who detect "her role of dominance across the East Midlands music scene.." which as a West Midlands writer reviewing someone I think we can lay claim to over here, sounds good to me.
Each new record is a new step in a slightly different direction for Rheo Uno: "Take It Slow" is no exception and while it's no doubt good advice in the romantic realm, let's hope it applies less so in respect of her career arc.