L’Rain deals with grief and guilt in gorgeous, ghostly new track “Blame me”

L’Rain’s new single, “Blame Me,” is taken from her upcoming sophomore album Fatigue, out June 25 on Mexican Summer.

L’Rain is the musical outlet of singer, song-writer, and multi-instrumentalist Taja Cheeks. Since the project formed in 2014, L’Rain has carved her own haunting, ethereal lane in the bubbling Brooklyn experimental music scene, combining vintage R&B, free jazz, and ambient noise into a spiritual, and heady sound entirely her own. On “Blame Me,” she bends these genre-neglecting sensibilities into a classic, dramatic ballad.

“Blame Me” is painted in shimmering, ethereal strokes. Shrill, fruit-turned-sour guitar and surreal sound collage, like the jazzy experimentation of Slauson Malone. Gorgeous, deeply moving, clear-as-cold-water R&B vocals. Really surprising, cinematic swells of strings and timpani, like the most dramatic moments off Moses Sumney’s Grae. It’s incredible how clean and shimmering it all sounds despite how undeniably dark and unearthly the song is. It’s like a perfect, forgotten ballad from decades past, finally discovered, crumpled by the intervening years; truly classic, yet twisted – a bit of rot amidst all the sweet. It’s deeply off putting, like a dream of some treasured childhood memory where everyone is smeared at the edges, slipping away to reveal half-forgotten demons.

L’Rain’s 2017 self-titled debut is a dense record that doesn’t easily divulge its brilliant layers. “Blame Me” is more upfront, or at least it appears that way on first listen. The lead vocals sit center and spotlit, and where the lyrics on L’Rain tend to swim past, too hazy to easily discern, they are more clearly rendered here. One line shines out especially, repeated over and over again “You were wasting away my God. Making my way down South.” It sounds like the terrible guilt of watching someone die – feeling helpless, and useless as they waste away. As the song crescendos this repeated line fades back into a wide collage of swimming sounds – vintage bass tone, tripping tape loops, background vocals from Jon Bap and Anna Wise, the brilliant duo behind last year’s Geovariance. It’s a wild, heart wrenching climb – all the potent drama of a huge classic showstopper made only darker by all of L’Rain’s strange, brilliant twists.

Watch the accompanying visuals, directed by Andy Swartz, below.