Edwin Raphael is not your typical indie artist. He is known for his devastatingly dark vocals and the harsh, sweet truths in his lyrics. His music is like poetry. For his newest release, “Sober,” he maintains those same strengths, infusing each line of this song with poignant instrumentals and emotional lyrics.
“Sober” sets a scene that starts with a movie-like introduction with strings seeping in to both ears. As the electric guitar slowly joins in to build up the tempo, the deep tremble of Raphael’s voice enters to contrast it beautifully. Similar to a lot of his other singles, “Sober” rings out with the same melancholic indie vibe. His words are strong as they steadily hit the beat with impact.
Sadness is something you can’t take away
and all of yours is true.
These words ache with the feeling of a painful love. I don’t know if it’s Raphael’s personal experience, but it sure feels like it. There is a tangible heavy truth as he discusses the outside perspective of a person who loves someone struggling with addiction. It is a very real situation that he sings about with raw, authentic emotion. And yet, there is an ethereal tone to his voice that he brings to most of his music and lyrics. I listen and drift away as I feel this suffering.
It is right in this moment that we arrive at the pre-chorus. Some soft “mmm’s” fade in and the volume of the song increases. The listener becomes aware of the twinkling synths in the background right as they fade out and just an acoustic guitar is left.
And you’re crying out for these words I know,
with you moving out ’cause you’re losing hope.
You can feel Raphael losing hold of this person he loves and all he can do is sing it out. The drums come in with a robust beat as the electric guitar is strummed with an anger, or maybe a tearful pain, that fits the voice of the song. It builds as his call is repeated.
Just be sober, sober, sober now.
It’s all he wants, but there is a defeat of sorts with the conclusion as it fades back out to a few notes on the electric guitar then nothing but the acoustic. His voice echoes; all he wants is his love’s sobriety, is life with his love. By the end of it, I wanted whoever it was to be sober as well. And then I wanted to listen to it all again.