On the Batman villain spectrum of music appreciation, Australian hip hop scores a Two Face. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s pretty cringe-worthy. Thankfully, for local hip hop artist, Daniel Ray, The Balance is largely the former. Teaming up with friend, composer and musical wingman, Andrew Wright, the album sees Ray’s vocal spit and narrative lyricism injected into some pretty grand rock ballads.
There’s a real sense of intelligence behind the collaborator picks in this one; some of the standout moments come from the female backing vocalists, Sumie Botha and Hollie Morris, whose powerful and distinctive vocal styles add a lot of texture to an album that follows a pretty rigid pattern of songwriting. In fact, there’s a few moments where Ray is eclipsed by the performance of his fellow musicians.
As for the main man himself, Ray hits his peak early with Move On, which has the best combination of his songwriting, vocal timing and emotional conviction, though later tracks, such as Grey Clouds, see him hit that high watermark again. There are moments when he stumbles, such as the shaky flow of Tired Of Fighting and the posturing chorus of Never Get it Back, but The Balance ultimately ranks up as an emotionally honest, deeply musical sample of local hip hop.