EP REVIEW: Ruel – Free Time

With maturity beyond his year’s, Ruel’s new EP ‘Free Time’ is not something you would expect from a sixteen year old. When you reflect on what Justin Bieber was releasing at that age, he was just repeating the word “baby” 56 times in a song, where as Ruel is diving into heartbreak, unrequited love and heavy self reflections. 

It’s a very real reflection that is so authentic to who he is as an artist and as a teenager right now. Being in touch with his emotional side, he’s been able to open up and showcase his maturity so purely. This EP is a perfect representation of his journey as a developing artist. 

Kicking off the EP with ‘Don’t Cry’ he explores gender constructs that tell boys it’s not okay to cry or show emotion because it’s a “feminine” quality. Supporting a friend through a hard time, he encourages them to embrace their feelings and to forget all the constructs they’ve grown up with. It’s a very soothing and soulful song to begin with, that rolls into the RNB injected ‘Real Thing’ and title track ‘Free Time’. 

Lead single ‘Painkiller’ sees him reflecting on the concept of how someone can be the antidote to all your bad times and your questioning thoughts. Growing it’s moody atmosphere through it’s soul-pop production, he cites influences from the likes of Frank Ocean, Khalid and James Blake on this massive singalong track. 

Throughout this EP he gets very real. Stripping all the production back on the moody piano ballad, ‘Hard Sometimes’, he explains all the things he misses out on with his new found fame that sees him on the road a lot. He struggles with not being able to experience life with his friends and having to watch them have a good time through social media. “Oh I try to be happy, but it’s hard sometimes. But life just seems to happen right before my eyes. Cause I feel like I’m not there, cause my head is up somewhere. Far away from all my friends, I just want that back again”. It’s an honest depiction of the loneliness he’s discovered in chasing his dream. 

But the EP’s strongest moment comes from the moody and beautiful ballad ‘Unsaid’ which is about the affect mental health can have on relationships. This track was written about his friend and fellow musician Luke Liang passing away after struggling with mental health issues. “I see that you’ve been crying but you never wanna talk about it. All these words left unsaid. Hanging over my head”. It’s a powerful song that will have you immediately taken aback by it’s pure heaviness.  

The thing I love the most about Ruel is that he’s genuinely making music that he wants to make and his fans are listening and engaging. He isn’t being pressured into making pop friendly songs like Justin Bieber or Shawn Mendes to have success. Instead his fans are supporting his raw creativity and his label are supporting that too.

You can purchase a physical copy of Ruel’s new EP ‘Free Time’ from Sanity HERE; https://www.sanity.com.au/products/2432730/Free-Time-EP 

Ruel Australian Tour

Thursday 19 September – Fortitude Music Hall, Brisbane *SOLD OUT*

Sunday 22 September – Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide *SOLD OUT*

Tuesday 24 September – Festival Hall, Melbourne

Thursday 1 October – Odeon, Hobart *SOLD OUT*

Thursday 3 October – Hordern Pavilion, Sydney

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