Colorado-based singer-songwriter Riley Max drops her album, ROYGBIV, inspired by the different colors of emotions that define moments and relationships.
Talking about the project, Riley shares, “The idea of doing the whole spectrum of colors was to show a very wide range of experiences and relationships. I hope that everybody can relate to at least something in there and take something away.”
Written, produced, and performed by Riley, who plays keyboards and guitar on each track, other musicians on the album include Doctor Noize, Art Bouton, and David Amaya, along with full strings.
ROYGBIV was tracked at Reach Studios in Colorado, except for “Blue,” which was recorded at a Recording Arts workshop at Stanford University. The album’s first track, “18,” references the fact that the album was completed on Riley’s 18th birthday as well as her age when she was accepted into Berklee School of Music’s master’s program in Music Production which she will be pursuing simultaneously with her undergraduate degree in Music at Harvard.
“Red” travels on a gentle, poignant piano topped by Riley’s evocative voice. When the rhythm enters, her vocals take on passionate intensity, imbuing the lyrics with the turbulence of profound emotions.
Highlights include “Yellow, (Live)” which for some reason conjures up suggestions of Cat Stevens because of its simple beauty – a soft acoustic guitar topped by Riley’s delicate yet vibrant vocals, at once velvety and crystalline.
“Green” opens on gorgeous teeter-tottering tones flowing into a luscious folk-flavored tune that drifts and glides on dream-like textures. According to Riley, “‘Green’ is the anchor of the album because all the other songs are about interactions with other people, and Green is more about connecting with yourself.”
The retro-laced “Blue,” rides an indulgent piano topped by Riley’s warm, nuanced voice, revealing a seasoned quality that belies her age, accompanied by a deliciously tender trumpet. A persona favorite because of its juxtaposition of trembling colors against a fat bassline, “Indigo” offers an exquisitely affecting combination of sonic surfaces and tonal hues.
Another gem, the intro to “Violet” blends hints of pop and jazz, and then the song ramps up to growling rock guitars capped by soaring vocals. This track displays Riley’s vocal range as well as the scope of her songwriting gift.
The album’s final track, the instrumental “Alphabet Soup,” is a confection of pure polyphonic elegance – wonderfully conceived and wrought, integrating all the aforementioned colors.
With ROYGBIV, Riley Max does the seemingly impossible: creates a concept album around the color spectrum and pulls it off with aplomb.