Sixteen-year-old New York City-born, Southern California-raised Ray Goren recently released a six-track EP titled Save My Soul. The major themes the singer-songwriter was inspired by are love, the coming together of people for the sake of the common good, and redemption from both our personal and collective past to build a better future. The genres Goren lives in are rock, soul, blues, and even jazz.
One might think that this is a pretty big bite for a 16-year-old to take and that no doubt he has choked on it. But given a chance, listeners will realise that Goren does manage to integrate his youthfulness with the older sounds of his preferred genres, even managing at times to have a very radio, youth-friendly pop edge without losing himself in it.
While Goren takes on guitars, vocals, and bass, he is helped by Jon Sosin (writing; guitars; background vocals; bass), Justin Glasco (bass; keyboard; percussions; background vocals), and Chaun Horten (drums). The resulting EP, which lasts around a total of 20 minutes, is a collection of appealing, optimistic, uplifting earworms.
The upbeat “Stop” is a funk-infused rock number with plenty of confidence and a slight edge of attitude. Goren does have a softer vocal style typical to rock that could have easily been taken over by the instrumentation and melody, but it all remains balanced just right not just in this track, but throughout the entire EP. In this track, Goren is addressing someone who is mistreating him, refusing to let the injustice go on—but in a positive way, with a melody that has an almost playful element to it. This choice of approach makes of “Stop” an uplifting, confident, almost patient and loving call for respect.
Similarly, “Rise Together”—easily the most socially conscious track on this EP—lacks the bitterness and anger that seems to be the mainstay of so many a track these days about the topic at hand. In this track, Goren discusses how negative social forces turn the powers of love and care into self-centeredness and greed, and calls on people to rise together above them. “Rise Together” is an anthemic track that builds up one layer at a time throughout the length of its play, just like one would expect a track about such a topic to be. The long electric guitar solo of about a minute around the halfway mark that engages the listener even more.
There is an interesting contrast in “Save My Soul” between the throbbing rock melody and the gentle, classic rock feel of the vocals. One could easily think this is a modern-day version of a classic rock song by a seasoned artist instead of a recently released number by a relative newcomer. While of a lower tempo, this bass heavy, blues laden song will still make toes tap while the electric guitar solo near its end will catch listeners’ ears.
The pop rock ballad “Can’t Live Like This” is quite different from the other tracks on the EP. Goren’s gentler side comes out in every way—melody, instrumentation, lyrics, and vocals. The slow-tempo song, which features delicate drums and a gentle guitar line, is a thoughtful overview about how sometimes you just have to admit that you can’t live a certain way and that you have to have the strength to make the necessary changes. What it has in common with the other tracks on the album is that it remains inspirational, meant to convey to listeners the necessary courage to make the changes needed.
Ray Goren seems to have already come a long way between picking up a guitar for the first time and releasing this EP. He is definitely an artist to keep an eye on, combining youthful optimism with talent and, clearly, hard work. More information about him is available on his official website and his Facebook page. Videos of his performances are available on his YouTube page.
Pictures provided by RMG.