frank ocean – cayendo acoustic review

A few days ago the infamously reclusive Frank Ocean provided fans two new 7″ inch singles, Cayendo and Dear April, with accompanying remixes from Sango and Justice respectively.

On the acoustic track Cayendo, an intimate recording inescapably places you in the room with Ocean. The track is so raw that you can catch snippets of metronome. We can even hear what sounds like Frank tapping his leg in preparation for hitting the higher notes, a trait he’s been noted for during his rare live performances.

On Cayendo, the high notes are carefully placed dynamically to touch the soul of the listener in a way that very few vocalists today are capable of. The choice of arrangement consisting of sparse rhythmic guitar leaves the listener unprepared for Ocean’s shift into the higher register for the songs final verse. Ocean’s voice glides before soaring to it’s peak of emotive tenderness. This is realised by the presence of slight cracks in the vocal line, as well as doubled up vocals.

Cayendo reads as a matter of fact rendering of the conflicts we experience in the search for love. In Andalusian-accented Spanish, rumoured to be inspired by his friendship with Rosalia, Ocean tells a brief tale of a lover who has given him the cold shoulder. He concludes that this situation is not something that will break his spirit, but ends the verse with doubt: asking if he truly possesses the strength required, why does he feel as if he is falling? “Si puedo soportar lo que siento, ¿por qué me ‘toy cayendo?”

The battle with his dual emotional state is laid bare in the chorus, where Frank switches to English. “You know too much, I can’t be proud/I still really love you, yes I do” he croons in a manner befitting a whispered conversation.

This  could effort could have slid comfortably into Ocean’s 2016 album Endless, which featured other ballads such as Higgs and Wither. Cayendo, however, is arguably Oceans most revealing track yet. The sense of peace emanating from the dulcet vocals and guitar in conflict with lyrics filled with a combination of self-awareness and self doubt feels like a message in itself. Life is complicated. Love is complicated. We can still choose to dance in the rain, love passionately and appreciate the beauty in individual people, in spite of their shortcomings, and our own.

8/10

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