Jay Ray – Striven feat. Marko Saaresto

 

Ever since Finnish artist Jay Ray announced his collaboration with Marko Saaresto (Poets of the Fall), I have said and promised myself that I would write a post about the single Striven. Of course, I have, as usual, been side-tracked, delayed by other projects… however, my listening to Striven on full repeat – and more recently some other songs from Jay Ray‘s album Self-Resonance – was not. Nonetheless, I am once more not so much synchronised with the actual event that the Striven release was.

Have you noticed how good artists have become in throwing teasers at us? I mean, they know how to engage and Jay Ray is no exception… he made such a teaser that had an amazing effect on me. As I watched it, I felt the chills creep up my spine telling me to pay attention. You know what I am talking about, right?! The little voice in your head screaming at you in a whisper that something great is coming. The teaser’s intro is not from Striven though… it is from another beautiful song from Jay Ray‘s “last debut album” (his words not mine) and the album title track Self-Resonance. Anyway, when I then heard Striven, it really did not disappoint.

Voices – A match made in Heaven

You all know how partial I am to Marko‘s voice. To me, he has one of the most beautiful voices on today’s rock scene. Highly emotional, he brings to life the words he sings and always manages to touch me deeply. His voice has the artist’s charisma… so, when I heard Jay Ray‘s voice entwined with Marko Saaresto‘s, I was enthralled. They have different voices, but at the same time almost similar. Jay‘s voice brings another kind of softness to the words while Marko‘s has this undeniable warmth about it. It is difficult to explain without falling into clichés, but as every first listen of a song is special and unique, the chills I felt left me rather breathless. Striven has no pause… it is almost like it was created solely for the voices rather than the music. Usually, I’d say that it is a shame… but the effect is striking: the breathlessness I just mentioned comes also from this, a perfect flow of words that drags you along to show you the way… as if there was some kind of urgency to follow that path.

“Set your mind in motion”

Jay Ray and Marko Saaresto – Promo shot, Striven

I cannot say that I have paid attention to the words at once, unusual for me isn’t it. I was too engrossed with the voices and the melody, I suppose. Once I did though, I could not look away and had to know them by heart… “nerd!”… yeah, I know. 😅 So, what was it with the words that got me hooked that much? Hmm… everything from their simplicity to the images they conjured. A little bit of magic, if you will. It took me a while to get it though, but it is only because I was slightly distracted.

I bid farewell to my shadow friends
For something else that’s worth more in the end
Jay Ray, StrivenSelf-Resonance (2017)

These lines sent me back years ago when I was surrounded by shadows… I could not free myself of them and no matter how much I tried to hide or run from them, they always found me to keep me down. With the distance, I understand that now, but back then I got comfy with my shadows around. They were my invisibility cloak, keeping me safe from the world… from my dreams… from myself… rocking me to the siren song of my fears into numbness. I can tell you, this was a bad place to be: very negative and destructive. I was lucky though for I did not have to break free on my own. Ultimately, I did “bid farewell to my shadow friends” to become the woman I am today. As I listened to these words in Striven, it reminded me that no matter how alone we think we are in our struggles, the truth is: we are not… never. I guess this is what life is about, the trick is to find the spark that pushes us to strike back.

Solely relying on the wings of fate to carry me
Jay Ray, StrivenSelf-Resonance (2017)

We all make our own fate, do we not. At least, this is what I believe and therefore, it is the reason why the saying “everything happens for a reason” carries so much more weight. This way, I am flying to wherever destination I set my course on. Somehow, Jay Ray has managed to put the right words on my own freedom quest… because this is what it is about. The fate I am creating is defined by my freedom to head towards it. But then, define “freedom”… In this instance, I see it as becoming the best version of myself, doing exactly what I am supposed to… the means to do so are not important as long as I am comfortable with them and they do not deny who I am.

[…] Cut out the noise
And set your mind in motion
Jay Ray, StrivenSelf-Resonance (2017)

These are without a doubt my favourite lines of the song… These words make me feel really good because there is so much hope in them. They are the key to the locked door in front of me; the solution for me to let go of what is keeping me at a stand-still… it is so simple. I know what I want and don’t want, and I am already going for what I want, sometimes though, mindless chaos takes hold of me and I cannot escape it unless… do you see it? The noise… cut it out, mute it for good. Striven is about you taking control and I am almost certain that it is about Jay Ray‘s own struggles… at the same time, it is about each and every one of us.

In the end, we all are in the same boat, fighting the same battles even if they might have different names or origins. Go for it and take control of your own life! This is what Striven means to me and I love it. Finally, Jay Ray admits that his collaboration with Marko is a dream come true… he is the proof that anything can happen.

I wrote the following comment on the Striven official video that sums up how much I love that song:

“I got hit by a stream of shivers running down my spine, invading my arms and leaving me breathless as I listened to “Striven”. Powerful indeed, beautiful and yes, worth every second of waiting. 💖 Jay Ray and Marko Saaresto, a gorgeous combination of talents for a really great song, which I intend to put on full repeat for the rest of the day. Perfect! 💞💝”

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