Ruben Vaun Smith – Trip On New Shores [Soundway Records]

Artwork soundway
The latest signee on famed London-based label, Soundway Records, Reuben Vaun Smith arrives on the scene with a sound that is fully-formed and poised, which is impressive considering he never originally intended on becoming a musician. Reuben’s dreams of becoming a professional soccer player were quashed by a severe knee injury at age 18, but he soon found a new career path after his grandfather gifted him a MIDI keyboard. Reuben taught himself music production while cooped up in the backyard shed of his Yorkshire home, and the fruits of his endeavours can be heard on this lush, nostalgic debut EP arriving August 21st,
Warm Nights.

Reuben’s unselfconscious, freeform approach to music-making, which is marked by live-recording improvisational 1-2 hour jam sessions, is the defining feature of the EP. That, and the tropical, Balearic-house inspired grooves which ensconce the listener in a perpetual state of sunset-tinged bliss. The third track on the EP, “Trip on New Shores”, embodies the EP at its most effortlessly cool and tranquil. As the beat slowly fades in, with steady retro drums, squelchy bass, and spacey synth arpeggios, it quickly picks up steam, evolving into a loose, playful, 80’s-nodding tropical house number that evokes going for an evening stroll on a tropical island. As the languorous vocal sample briefly repeats the title refrain while maracas emerge in the background, the song takes on an even more hypnotic, enticing flavour.

Despite maintaining such a languid, carefree vibe, the track never grows stale, constantly evolving and finding new, intricate rhythms and eclectic instrumental arrangements. This speaks to Reuben’s restless and expansive energy as a musician. What Reuben maybe lacks in fancy recording equipment or extensive musical training, he more than makes up for in his creativity, and the generous, warm, inviting soundscapes he so naturally and beautifully conjures.