Rising R&B star Rayana Jay has an uncanny ability to cut to the core of emotional intricacies, making poetry out of the feelings one usually stays up late dissecting. Last year, her EP Sorry About Last Night garnered widespread acclaim for its insightful dive into the aftermath of a breakup -- not to mention Jay's gorgeous vocals and effortless cool on its lead single, "Sleepy Brown."
Now, the Vallejo-by-way-of-Richmond singer (and one of KQED's Women to Watch) is back with Morning After, a funky, soulful eight-track EP that explores different sides of the singer: sweet, sassy, player, hopeless romantic. Jay wears these contradictions on her sleeve, chronicling the often confusing journey of a twenty-something woman looking for love. Check out our favorite lyrics from the project below and catch Rayana Jay at The New Parish for her headlining show on Sept. 28.
1. "You got that touch/It's too much/It's not enough" ("Magic")
"Magic," Morning After's upbeat, disco-inflected lead single, conveys the high one experiences when a burning crush is finally reciprocated. You're so elated you want to dance alone in your room, and this song is the perfect soundtrack. Just before the infectious call-and-response hook, Jay taps into a feeling of simultaneous overwhelm and intense desire: "It's too much/It's not enough."
2. "I know you got some records/I got some N.E.R.D./I love when you sing to me/Even when you sing off-key" ("Chill")
One of Jay's most endearing qualities is that she doesn't claim to be a flawless vixen -- even when singing about relationships and sex, she lays her doubts, insecurities, and quirks bare. With this line, she demonstrates how she appreciates the same level of realness in others. Plus, who doesn't love a girl who has N.E.R.D. on vinyl?
3. "You're black like grandma's hands/Wrapped up in grandma's prayers" ("Sunkissed")
"Sunkissed," an homage to black love and black beauty, is rife with rich cultural references. The allusion to a grandmother's prayers beautifully honors the ways that family can keep one going despite the hardships of the world.
4. "You tell me you love me/I just adore you/I grab your cell and I tell you to call/I just ignore you" ("Everything")
On "Everything," Jay grapples with the messiness that can ensue when attempting to date while emotionally unavailable. You might have a connection with someone, but something is stopping you from actually committing. "Everything" taps into those contradictory impulses and the havoc they can wreak on one's love life.
5. "Baby can't you see/There's plenty of you/Not that many of me" ("Cupcake")
First of all, "Cupcake" is amazing because it borrows from Trunk Boiz' underground Oakland classic, "Cupcake No Fillin." Jay references the West Coast player anthem to address a temporary lover who's in too deep when, for her, it's not that serious -- though, unlike her male counterparts, she's earnest and apologetic.