California-native Raihanna Estrada has been singing Country music since developing a real love for the genre during the 1990’s, with the likes of Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Travis Tritt & the Dixie Chicks acting as early favourites. Leaning heavily on their influence whilst learning her craft a young Raihanna was challenged by her mother to find her own sound, her own voice…and that is precisely what she did. Fast-forward to more recent times and whilst working towards graduation from a vocal program at the Musician’s Institute in Los Angeles, the singer was playing shows around L.A. with her band, her sets featuring co-writes of original material.
In 2012 the self-titled ‘Raihanna Estrada’ EP was released, introducing Country fans to an artist more than worthy of their attention, with four excellent tracks. On the back of that debut release Raihanna has continued to tour around the US gaining more & more fans along the way. Pleasingly the singer has also been keen to develop links with the UK and has had support from countless Country websites, bloggers, radio shows over here, due to the sheer enthusiasm that Raihanna has for sharing her music across the Atlantic. Travelling over to the UK last September she was one of the performers at the Yeehaw UK Country Music Festival, giving fans here a chance to see her perform live.
Earlier this year Raihanna released her second EP, ‘Take Me Back’, a five track collection which builds on her first release and presents an artist ready to effortlessly move on to the next level in her career. Opening track ‘Puppeteer’ begins tentatively with edgy guitar chords and Estrada’s confident vocals, before the chorus sees the welcome addition of warm dobro & banjo. This cleverly written tale of being utterly in love, with quite possibly the wrong man, is understated but all the more poignant for that. Haunting dobro features again on moving ballad ‘Take Me Back’, a track structured very much like a mainstream pop song with its’ hooky chorus, but given a delightfully tender Country performance. The modest production on the track places the emphasis on Raihanna’s vocals and rightly so, a voice which manages to be both powerful and charmingly vulnerable at the same time.
Feisty uptempo ‘Fireball’ is an absolute delight of a track, with its warnings of over-indulging in the liquor which ‘tastes like heaven, and burns like hell‘. Joyful picking, playful lyrics and a deliciously sassy vocal from Raihanna combine to make you want to hit the town to ‘take another shot of fireball‘. The coming of age tale of ‘Young & Alive’ is an upbeat celebration of life and love, buoyed by glorious fiddle playing throughout and some truly stellar banjo licks. Bursting with an infectious energy the uncluttered production on the track provides it with a welcome feeling of spontaneity. ‘Summer For Lovers’ is a surprisingly laidback recollection of the good times shared in the hot July nights, and the intense romances which fly by just as quickly as the month itself. Sounding on the surface like a bro-Country song template, the track has lyrics with heaps more charm and a musical backing which manages to expertly blend mainstream Country with an acoustic bluegrass flavour.
‘Take Me Back’ proves across its’ five tracks that Raihanna Estrada has come along way since mimicking her Country idols back in the ’90’s, and is a hugely talented artist in her own right. All of the songs here have been lovingly crafted and have something to say, speaking in a way in which we can all relate to them and add our own memories whilst listening. Raihanna has undoubtedly found her own voice and it shines on the EP, consistently graceful, occasionally mischievous and always engaging. Musically ‘Take Me Back’ has an appealing and rare sound, with its’ blend of Country, Bluegrass-lite and a subtle dash of Pop. Fingers crossed a full album is in the works so that we can all hear more from Raihanna Estrada. (‘Take Me Back’ is available now on iTunes UK)