Rob Ray’s latest EP follows in the path of his latest release, Yours is the Day. And while the two EPs were written concurrently, much in the manner of say Thrice’s Alchemy Index, there’s certainly enough distinction between the two. Much like its predecessor, there are strong spiritual truths and three singles preceded release of the full EP.
But Yours is the Night feels more quieted and barren. It’s not necessarily deeper or more solemn than its counterpart, but the stripped-back, acoustic-driven nature results in a mood akin to laying awake at night, restless ruminations coursing through your mind. It feels like you’ve stumbled upon someone in posture of prayer.
“Meet Me Here” opens the EP and is perhaps the closest to tracks off Yours is the Day. It’s upbeat, with a fair bit of piano as a base. Ray’s aptitude for crafting compelling key parts is front and center here. He acknowledges the difficulties of life but comes before the Lord with expectance. There’s a subtle use of what seems like tremolo picking that serves as a beautiful ornament on this already-captivating track.
With the bar set high, “Showed Up in the World” follows suit. It’s pretty poppy, with claps and stick clicks and a generally beachy vibe. It’s a fun song that addresses the concept of ex nihilo creation – the oddity of existence in the first place and what it looks like to respond faithfully. There’s a short horn part toward the end of the song which is sadly short-lived, but it does help augment the track. While this might feel like the most commercial track of the bunch, Ray’s lyrics are still filled to the brim with the oft-simple beautiful reminders of Scripture.
“Safe With You” is lofi and beat-driven; it’s not the first time Ray has used electronic drums, but this is perhaps the apex of harnessing this power well. This is a neon-tinged track, certainly of vespertine quality though never too sleepy. Ray’s vocals are as dynamic as ever as he recounts God’s identity as a mighty fortress and ever-present help. The synth textures are a pleasant addition, helping cement the “night” feel.
Revelation is a challenging book, filled with perplexing imagery. But at the heart of it is the powerful reminder Christ will return again. These are the central themes on “A Day Will Come”, a track seeped in hazy psych-rock influence. It’s a call for revival, a promise of deliverance, a reminder of evil’s defeat. It’s not my favorite style of guitar by any stretch, but lyrically, it’s definitely a highlight on the EP. Ray is not shy to tackle tough topics.
Speaking of, the problem pain is front and center on “My Presence is Enough”. The song plays out as a conversation between Ray and God, with Ray looking for answers and God acknowledging his concerns. It reminds me of God’s response to Job to some degree. While some of the sentiments might feel a bit cliché, the main thesis comes at the end: even in spite of our questions, God’s presence is sufficient for us. This tracks takes a more simplistic folk approach, but arguably, this approach works well and gives more space for the lyrics to sink in. I particularly enjoy the drumming here.
I tend to have high expectations for closing tracks. “Belong” starts off with a mix of reverb-laden guitar layers, such that you might expect it’s an instrumental. However, a minute in, the chaos takes form in true Creation fashion. Ray’s vocals come in, then drum swells follow, subtle electric guitar is added in, and there’s a bit of a light crescendo end. It’s certainly not a weak ending, but after seeing tremolo and horns on other tracks, I can’t help but feel curious what this song might feel like at full force. Now, that’d be a bit contrary to the mood of the EP and I do acknowledge the restraint here manages to create enough anticipation.
Ultimately, Yours is the Night feels like an appropriate second part to Yours is the Day. It’s not appropriate to compare the two, even though both are full of an eclectic mix of styles on their own. But on this release, Ray has unarguably opted for some harder themes – questions of God’s goodness, the difficulty of entropy, trying to find purpose. Rather than leave it at that, Ray provides thoughtful, rooted-in-truth responses that highlight the promises and character of God all the same. These aren’t really dark songs, and the overall composition as well as Ray’s delivery give everything a comforting vibe. This is the sort of release that’s perfect on the cusp of summer. These are Spirit-filled campfire songs, you might say.
The main downside again comes from some of the restraints here. There are many styles or elements that are teased briefly that I’d love to see more of. Ray has a huge arsenal of influences and a grand dynamic in his songwriting, and I’m waiting for the moment all of it will eventually coalesce. But until then, there isn’t much to complain about here. Ray has given us two EPs and is quickly cementing himself as an artist to keep a close eye on.