The rising R&B singer Arin Ray teamed up with one of his genre’s most important figures, Babyface, to release “Always” on Friday. Their collaboration is smooth and impeccable, with a melody that evokes Al B. Sure!’s classic “Nite and Day” and winning backing vocals that suggest mid-Nineties P.M. Dawn.
But the beauty of the arrangement and the loping, laid-back beat mask the track’s romantic turmoil. “Girl I broke your heart with conditions,” Babyface sings, crooning beautifully even as he delivers harsh news. “I did it all in hopes that you’d listen/ He don’t need to be in your life/ And truth is, girl, neither do I.”
“Always” is an impressive confluence of talent. In addition to Babyface, the track is co-written and produced by the Rascals, who have credits on songs for Ariana Grande and Toni Braxton. And Ray cut his teeth as a member of the Underdogs, the writing and production group helmed by Harvey Mason Jr. and Damon Thomas, known for a long line of R&B hits.
In the last few years, Ray started to accumulate major-label R&B placements. He helped with “Ain’t You,” from K. Michelle’s More Issues Than Vogue, “The Ride,” which Ro James used to open his El Dorado album, and “Don’t Matter,” an August Alsina loosie. This year, Ray was also credited as a co-writer on “FYT,” which appeared on the Ty Dolla $ign and Jeremih album MihTy.
“Always” is one of three new tracks Ray added to the deluxe version of his debut album, Platinum Fire.