When the word “ballad” comes to mind, the setting rarely changes: a seat or a bench for a piano or guitar, solo spotlights for a solemn song, everything else (except for those waving phone flashlights) cloaked in mourning darkness. The singers imagined are also just as constant: on the radio, Ed Sheeran or Adele; on Spotify, whatever Soft Not-Really-Indie Indie Boy is trending at that time (roll a dice to decide between Lauv, Jeremy Zuccker, and LANY…. probably land on the right one).
At My Best does not have that lightning, and RAVEEN might never be one of those artists listed — mainly because 1) the world has a random way of failing to make the right people stars (remember Logan Paul? Yeah…why?) and 2) Canadian music isn’t subject to the same breakthroughs that the states have access to (the last “new” Canadian artist on the radio in recent memory: Alessia Cara; the kicker: “Here” was released in 2016).
Their loss, on both counts, but for those who are lucky enough to find At My Best, they will hear something rare and, while the phrase is used a bit too lightly at times, poetic (“You may twirl a thousand times in winter/ In your best summer dress”). Not just heartbreak, the nostalgia of holding now-severed ties in your hands, but the self-withering of long walk homes guided by decaying lampposts and a dusted heart, the synths and melody descending like wilting petals. It’s the “blue smile” made in a liminal space that separates breaking from broken and better from
“best,” the tender hesitance when Eric sings “each” as if he’s closing his eyes to numb the memory of “fraying,” the mumbling of “satisfied,” obscured in quiet disappointment. Then, the strings of hope and two-word reassurance that can somehow wash “the darkness” away: “I’m alright.”
Yes, you might never hear RAVEEN perform At My Best at the Madison Square Garden, or Scotiabank Arena, or the Royal Albert Hall. Nor will you need to to know what At My Best means: RAVEEN gives you their hearts to hold and heal right through the screen.