“The first thing you notice about “To Whom It May Concern,” the new album from longtime Austin singer-songwriter and bandleader Ray Prim, is just how wide-open his music is. Like much of the best music our city has produced over the decades, it’s nearly impossible to pin down as one genre or style. With multiple vocalists and two violinists carrying the melodies and a solid rhythm section locking down the groove, Prim and his six-piece backing crew create songs that carry accents of soul, rock, R&B, pop, folk, jazz and more. But ultimately this music stands apart from all those genres. That’s exactly what Prim wanted when he shifted gears about a decade ago, after many years of working hard to make it big with the band 7 Stones. From the mid-’90s to 2004, that band recorded three albums and toured extensively, playing riff-based hard rock that never quite broke through to a larger audience.”
“Rediscovering his lyrical center in a calmer acoustic setting – being honestly heard without rock guitar – set forth another path toward personal redemption. In this singer-songwriter iteration, mounds of material made each succeeding project an improvement over the previous one, diverse sounds and voices piling atop one another. While 2017's affirming To Whom It May Concern signified a great leap forward, Unconditional evolves, refines, and crystallizes his rich, Bill Withers-esque amalgam of soul, pop, R&B.”
“the artist Prim has most reminded me of since I first saw him and his group a year ago is Alejandro Escovedo, the longtime Austin performer who moved to Dallas last year. That’s not to say their music is anything alike, really: Prim is his own artist, in the same way indie-rock great Spoon is different than 1980s local alt-rockers the Reivers who preceded them, and Gary Clark Jr. is more than simply a modern blues-rock version of Stevie Ray Vaughan.”
“A regular on the local listening room circuit, singer-songwriter-guitarist Ray Prim helps make up the lifeblood of Austin's music scene. Unconditional bops from soul to folk to rock, but ultimately boils down to "black and blues." The sonically dense "Too Much to Lose" swells from acoustic fingerpicking to strings and organ as Prim meditates on blackness in America: "This is America, red white and blue/ But it ain't the same for me and you." He sings of love and loss with an aching vibrato on the piano-driven "When Hope Lets Go" and the sax- and synth-rock-centered "Master My Love," but he's at his best interrogating race and politics. That theme crescendos on "Gently Down the Stream," where he asks, "Have you ever been pulled over for the color of your skin?" Then he takes dead aim at the current White House occupant with the level of derision he deserves: "Make America great again?/ Bitch, you can't be serious now!"”
“Ray Prim's latest, the soulful and grounded To Whom It May Concern, is a well-produced and efficient work of an exceptionally self-aware man, conscious of his strengths and how to properly utilize them. "My young days are gone, let's call it like it is," he admits on country-fried "Find a Suit." However, it's not a statement of being lesser, but of lessons learned and hopefulness in love. The funky "I Promise" proves another prime example, blending his emotive R&B vocal with prominent horns and strings. Prim's maturity shines through his generosity in providing sweet-singing vocalist Mexican Chocolate (Mike Robledo) great latitude, not only on the vibrant backroad burner "Stormy Haze," but throughout the album.”
“Prim has long understood the importance of music. The power behind a single note depends on the willingness of the artist to become vulnerable. An R&B vibrato remains in Prim’s arsenal, and has proven to be his bread and butter. That signature vibrato is the lighthouse amidst the storm of a full arrangement. It leads the audience to shore, and brings us the light. Prim describes the prowess of his music as simply “Making it do what it does one chord at a time.” He’s in it not only for the love of the music, but for the love of the people. His soulful gravity may be what pulls you into his vision, but at some point, it just becomes too compelling to look away.”
“Prim’s album explodes into action from the opening notes. A soul record to be sure, but replete with fiddle, piano, and funky grooves, it wades into other genres and remains instrumentally intricate and unexpected, barring a couple of brief forays into passive easy-listening. Prim explores usual soul tropes like love and loss but develops a distinct voice with a strong sense of justice in protest lyrics and social criticism. His newest effort is an open letter to the public on the state of the world, a powerful statement for an artist Austin music lovers should keep an eye on.”
"Ray Prim, Live at Strange Brew Lounge Side - Prim and his sizable backing crew magically mixing up a variety of styles into a sound that can’t be pinned down to one genre. Multilayered vocals, well-placed string accents and polyrhythmic percussion grooves drive Prim’s songs toward enchanting peaks and valleys" -
"Ray Prim 2016 Black Fret Grant Recipient"
“Ray Prim & Band deliver one of the more entertaining live performances you’ll see. They’re shows are soulful, passionate and nothing short of comedic as the wisecracking Prim imparts his wisdom between tracks. Their recent performance at the Scottish Rite Theater was so charismatic it garnered Ray Prim & Band a 2016 Black Fret nomination...”
“Ray Prim is an exciting talent you should scope out live, especially. He takes these tunes to a whole new level in front of an audience. The live versions are more spirited, delivered with even more urgency than on the cd, and that says much considering this is one of the better releases in Austin for 2015… and with a guy like Mexican Chocolate in Ray’s corner, the live show is upped considerably. Song Highlights are the entire cd. Pick a track, you can’t miss.”
"going to a Ray Prim show is like going to a party with one hell of a soundtrack and a room full of quirky new friends. It's an interactive experience between jokes, appropriately placed anecdotes and the crowd swaying to the vocal blends of Ray and his backup singer whom he affectionately calls Mexican Chocolate"
"Ray Prim's voice is outstanding: warm, soulful, a bit reminiscent of Marvin Gaye with the high register of Al Green. As excellent as his voice is, it's his eclectic arrangements, mixing folk and chamber with R&B, that make this otherwise straightforward record a worthy listen.
“The music of Ray Prim is a contemporary version of soul meets jazz-like acoustic that popular radio has been missing since Marvin Gaye told you to get it on. In Ray Prim’s music it is easy to hear the collaboration of influences that aided in the development of his sweet, brassy, seductive sound"”
"Think a less hippie-dipped Ben Harper, or a more roots-ready TV On The Radio when you think of Ray Prim. This Austinite's work is relentlessly pretty, to take a word out of Harper's playbook."
“Ray is probably one of the most modest artists in town saying things like "I'm pretty generic, nothing really exciting about me" and "even when I write poppy ass shit, it ain't gonna get played on the radio". The second Primm starts playing you know that couldn't be further from the truth.”