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RIZ LA VIE Finds His Haven; Album Review

(Image via @thankyouriz)

Two years have passed since the last collection release by New Jersey-bred artist, RIZ LA VIE, the artfully soul-baring musician who is noted for his coarse, enigmatic, boundless pairing of vocals and production styles. In July of 2021, RIZ LA VIE released the single “Hot Rod” which was an unforeseen allusion to his preceding project, Haven, his official debut album. Since premiering in the music industry in 2017, RIZ LA VIE has been consistently releasing a series of EPs that display his range of sounds. Arriving two years since his last EP drop, Haven appears to conclude the collection of RIZ’s projects whose titles seem to reflect ways of nourishing the soul: Found. (2017), Keep. (2018), Breathe. (2019), and Feed. (2020).

With the extended gap between his last project and his newest, it can be presumed that the time RIZ has taken to create this debut album has been rooted in the collecting of experiences and processing of emotions that have accumulated into the story that is told through Haven’s tracklist. The two-year hiatus was well worth the wait as RIZ LA VIE gives us more than just an album, but a story of life that can resonate with anyone who has endured the irregular ups and downs of the world.

After his last EP, Feed., RIZ LA VIE made a life-changing move to California. This time seems to have brought him new inspiration and emotions that are being poured out in his debut, coming-of-age album. Through this fifteen-track project, Haven takes us along a storyline of life: the beautiful and the tragic. Just like the unpredictable flow of life, RIZ reflects this through the unpredictability of sounds and emotions that echo through each and every song of the collection.

The opening of Haven immediately entices you into its story with its powerful and impassioned track, “Audi.” Equally heartbreaking as it is beautiful, “Audi” is a prelude to the journey RIZ LA VIE is preparing for us to take through the tracks of the album. Lyrics such as “excuse the intermission, got another mission,” stand out amongst the dilution of the background track, immediately introducing the creation story of Haven; the break that was needed for RIZ to pursue the personal and creative mission that was his figuring out of the world so that it might be transformed into such a soul-gripping debut album.

Journeying through the tracks that proceed the opening, we listen to the story of RIZ adapting to life: his cross-country move to LA and leaving behind people, places, and memories that were once familiar to pursue a path unknown. It becomes evident the juxtaposition that RIZ LA VIE feels towards this new phase of life. RIZ LA VIE’s debut album, Haven, is a transcendent, coming-of-age story that is impassioned by the unfiltered expression of vulnerability from the mind of RIZ. With spirited, rock-type tracks like “(H)LA” and “FYP,” there is a clear indication of RIZ’s homesickness and the discomfort he faces in adjusting to the west-coast lifestyle. In between such tracks, RIZ delivers ballads that confront the unfathomability of the world and our roles within it - addressing materialism, time spent, connections made, romanticization turned delusion, the desired escape from chaos, and fears of time and death. Covering such a realm of coming-of-age themes is difficult, but RIZ responds with a mirrored array of genres that align with delivering the instability of emotions that accompany these lessons he is facing. Jumping between styles such as alternative hip-hop, bedroom pop, acoustic, and indie rock, Haven is a compilation of sounds that is completely RIZ LA VIE’s own.

(Image via @thankyouriz)

RIZ LA VIE’s artistic choice of following the story he wants to tell without restricting himself to a set of genre boundaries is a true testament to what Haven stands for. This album feels like the most vulnerable and personal that RIZ has gotten in his music. Combined with such a jumble of genres and production styles, Haven marks a monumental artistic project within the world of genre normatives. We have seen, for some time now, how artists are breaking barriers and testing their limits with new, unexpected styles and stories; RIZ LA VIE takes that trend to a whole new level.

Many of his past projects can be identified with a particular ‘sound,’ but Haven introduces an entirely new set of standards in categorizing just what kind of ‘sound’ RIZ LA VIE encompasses. The title track, “Haven,” seems to reflect RIZ LA VIE’s content acceptance of the course of life and how to cope with it. After the turbulence of audible highs from tracks like “No Doubt” (formerly “Hot Rod”), and “Ganni,” to heart-wrenching-lows felt in “Trance,” and “Sunlight Interlude,” to the in-betweens of conflicting emotions prompted by songs like “Marcel,” “Maps,” and “Firescapes,” Haven’s title track is a clear marker of solace, the turning point of the album story. “Haven” is RIZ LA VIE’s message to himself and to the world: a lesson on how to control how we experience this life, striving to create our own safe spaces and see the world through the lens of a refuge, a haven.

The last four tracks of the album can be viewed as the falling action of the story, the conclusion of Haven with an optimistic end. Following the title track, two previously-released singles make up the finale of Haven: “Nitelite (Casino Royale),” and “Go Again” which is accompanied by a “(Haven Version)” of the track. As we move past the fears, hopes, and emotions felt in the rising action of the Haven storyline, RIZ LA VIE wraps up the transformative, audible journey with promises of solace. The lightheartedness of the lyrics and the upbeat production of the concluding songs leaves you with satisfaction, a fulfilling ending to a story of adjustment.

After a full listen, it is clear that RIZ is taking us on his journey through life: the changes, discomfort, loss, healing, and acceptance. He produces a project that easily resonates with those who have faced similar turmoil in the world. RIZ begins his debut album tour, "The World Could Be a Haven Tour," on February 9. Haven is available on all streaming platforms for you to indulge in the unpredictable walk of life, with RIZ LA VIE as a guide to making the world our own, personal haven.

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