Rejjie Snow finally brings his debut studio album to listeners. The long-awaited project is preceded by popular tapes such as Rejovich and The Moon & You, stellar and cohesive EPs that garnered the Dubliner a passionate following. Dear Annie is Snow’s attempt at something more expansive. The album is uniquely variable; outstanding production top to bottom allows Rejjie to experiment stylistically, lyrically, and conceptually. Features from superstar contemporaries including Jesse Boykins III, Cam O’bi, and Aminé underline what is an incredibly rich project that encompasses a number of powerfully relatable themes
Dear Annie is as much a letter from Rejjie to himself as it is to us. Raised in Ireland, Snow has spoken repeatedly on the struggles he faced. Snow continues to grapple with his personal and artistic identity. Songs like “Rainbows” and “Greatness” touch on being black, his influences, past, and future.
Romance is a particularly evocative theme across the album. Snow has a distinctly multi-dimensional perspective on love, and attacks it from a number of different directions. On “Mon Amor,” Rejjie joins Milena Leblanc over production from Lewis Ofman, delivering French vocals and two detached verses that speak to his addiction to pain of love: “Fuck love, its ugly.” “Spaceships” touches on lust and idealism. Perhaps the most eye catching track on the album, “Egyptian Luvr,” produced by Kaytranada and featuring Dana Williams and Aminé, is written about the last moments between lovers:
“Tomorrow isn’t promised and we learn this the hard way. The last moments with your lover. In this song I was […] telling my girl how much I love her and thanking her for this journey we rode.”
Rejjie brings a calculated emotional complexity to his album. Love is a beginning and ending point for this intricacy. Transient and ephemeral, love is tied closely to death on the album, influencing Snow and dictating what drives him. As powerful as love is to him, it’s also a catalyst for the growth of his emotional intelligence: “I hate love but in a crazy way,” he raps on “23”; later on “Désolé” he emphasizes “love is just a fucking sin.”
“My album has lots of different feelings if you care to listen to it. I wanted it to feel like you’re slowing dying and losing your mind throughout.”
From Rejovich to The Moon & You, it’s been difficult to pin down a distinct characterization of Snow’s style. Seemingly as adept a rapper as he is a singer, Snow has adopted different styles and approaches to his albums over the recent years. On Dear Annie, it is similarly difficult to pinpoint any one cadence as Snow’s trademark sound. The variety of producers on the album is mirrored by a dearth of features ranging in genre and style. Snow gives nod to collaborator Rahki for pushing himself out of his comfort zone on songs like “Annie.” The titular track combines a faster paced instrumental and resonant vocals from Jesse Boykins, bringing a looser style out of Rejjie distinct from much of his previous work.
Several tracks, however, rise above the others and demand individual attention. “Mon Amour,” “Room 27,” and “Désolé” all share production from Lewis Ofman, with instrumentals heavy on synths and organ that create an airy, dreamlike tone that contrasts Snow’s verses examining themes of, death, isolation, and more. “Room 27” makes direct reference to the infamous 27 Club, which, for Snow, represents a symptom of the personal difficulties that come with modern music. “Désolé” examines Rejjie’s personal relationship with love, regret, and insecurity. This trio of tracks in many ways the most understated yet revelatory tracks on the album. They are stripped down and at the same incredibly complex, and all the more beautiful for it.
At the end, however, Rejjie reminds us that these feelings are just part of the human condition. Dear Annie does not pretend to be anything it is not: an eclectic mix of songs, emotions, styles, and intrigues. The album picks up pace towards the end, ushered out by bouncy tracks including “LMFAO” and “Bye Polar,” reminders not to take yourself too seriously, and to enjoy all the good in life.
Take a moment to listen to Dear Annie on Spotify and keep an eye out for Snow’s tour dates below.