Album Reviews

Rooted in New Age R&B, R O N I’s Debut EP “Crown” Excels

If you’re looking for a jump on the hottest new R&B artist to tell your friends about before they inevitably catapult into the stratosphere, R O N I is your best bet.

Although you likely haven’t heard of this guitarist, singer, and songwriter before, R O N I is no novice when it comes to making music. Rony Corcos, aka R O N I, performed under the alias Rony’s Insomnia for several years in the early 2010s, just recently going by her new stage name after signing with InchPerSecond Records. Born and raised in Jerusalem, Rony moved to the boroughs of New York City at the age of 20, where she spent several years playing small venues across NYC’s Lower East Side.

Unpretentious and bursting with raw artistic potential, R O N I released her debut EP Crown yesterday, September 9. The sound can be defined as comfortably experimental, a combination of neo-soul and contemporary R&B that brings to mind artists like Solange, Moses Sumney, FKA Twigs and Charlotte Day Wilson. Despite a meager selection of listenable songs on streaming services, mostly from Rony’s Insomnia’s 2014 Count to Ten, R O N I sounds exceptionally well-crafted on Crown; less of a newcomer, and more a hidden gem with untapped potential.

“Permanent Visions” is the EP’s opener, slowly coming into frame with distorted guitar strings before R O N I’s deep, melodic voice slips its way into the song. Smooth, subdued, and careful, “Permanent Visions” is profound and heartfelt.

Two other songs – “Stop Motion” and “Senses” – follow right after, both released as singles earlier this year. “Stop Motion” represents a wonderful introduction to R O N I as a whole. According to an interview with Audio Femme, roughly 85% of the song we hear today was improvised and written in Tel Aviv, shortly following the end of a relationship. “Stop Motion” is a mournful, soothing song about the cyclical nature of an imperfect love. Though she feels an overpowering sense of kinship toward the song’s subject, it ultimately doesn’t manifest itself in the form of a lasting relationship. “Even though we knew it was just not going to work, we would still walk down the street holding hands,” R O N I told Audio Femme in July.

I highly recommend “Stop Motion” as the first song you listen to if you haven’t heard of R O N I before. Be sure to keep an ear out for the guitar at the 1:33 minute mark – it’s subtle, yet tremendously satisfying, clear evidence that the devil is in the details with R O N I.

Although it’s an EP, Crown is short (too short in my opinion – it’ll leave you wanting more), with a lot packed into only four songs. It ends with “Higher Ground,” an industrial, echoing song that rests solely on the shoulders of R O N I’s alluring voice. It’s definitely the most downplayed of all of Crown’s songs, with R O N I herself as the song’s centerpiece.

Crown is a soulful project that demands your attention, featuring warped, intricate production by Tel Aviv’s FortyForty, a relatively unknown producer who, like R O N I, also exhibits exceptional talent. Crown is refreshing, succinct and powerful, ideal for casual listening in the shower or on short afternoon walks.

If you’re wanting to know more about the woman behind Crown, you’ll be excited to know that the EP is also a four-part visual album (one part for each song) on R O N I’s YouTube page. The videos give another glimpse at the artistry of R O N I as she navigates a small apartment space, the streets of New York City, and elsewhere.

R O N I’s new EP Crown is available to listen to on your preferred streaming platform now.

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