At this point last year, I knew very little about Reesa Renee. While the upstart Landover, Md., singer generated modest buzz in the D.C. scene, she remained mostly under the radar. Since then, Renee has won first place at Apollo Amateur Night and performed live on Fox5 Morning News.
Still, there were surprising moments at her show on Saturday. At Fillmore Silver Spring, Renee belted out tunes from her debut album, Reelease—-out today—-amid a who’s-who of D.C. musicians: Largo, Md., rapper RAtheMC showed up for her verse on “Listen,” and jetsetter Tabi Bonney performed songs from his own catalog. Not bad for a relative newcomer.
Though on Reelease, she doesn’t sound so green. It’s heavy on go-go-infused jams (listen to “Got Me Loose,” below) and grown-up R&B (“So Easy,” “Waste Away”), and it possesses a head-in-the-clouds motif that sounds overwhelmingly youthful without being too naive. Instead, Renee yearns for easier times, slightly removed from the grind and closer to her utopian dreams. “I’m gonna have a good day,” she insists on “Good Day.” On “World Go Round,” she craves independence: “How you ever supposed to make it on your own when the government condones things like college loans?”
Certainly, Renee is weary of the mundane. Rather than belaboring the point, she accentuates the positive with forward-looking musings set atop breezy instrumentals. On “Radio,” she bemoans the indie life while pointing the finger at FM-radio playlists. “I swear I’m so tired of hearing the same thing on the radio,” Renee sings. “Cause all they talk about is rims, and the cribs, and the cars, and the ice.” Renee delivers the line with an innocent charm that draws listeners into the message.
Reelease gets better as it plays, beginning frenetically before it calms to the point of neutrality. The singer shows promise when the songs are upbeat, but she truly shines when the tempo slows. Renee may have made long strides in a short time, but on Reelease, she sounds like much more than a new face in the crowd.
Reelease is available on iTunes. She performs tonight at the Up and Up Open Mic, 9 p.m., Liv Nightclub, 2001 11th St. NW. $10. Listen to “Got Me Loose” below.