Ren Liu Releases Dreamy EP ‘Prayer For a Stranger’
There’s an undeniable timeless quality to the first song of Ren Liu’s EP ‘Prayer for a Stranger.’ ‘Endless’ sprawls with her sweet and sultry voice in front of a sad cello, slow keys, delicate guitar, and emotional strings, ‘My love for you is endless’ she croons over orchestration sounding like a vintage classic.
Born from Chinese immigrant parents, Ren Liu grew up in the American Midwest listening to an eclectic mix of Crowded House, Avril Lavigne, No Doubt, Lauryn Hill and Metallica. Her love of all genres of music led her to a classical study of different instruments. She started playing piano at 5 years old, then violin at 7, and she trained and performed as a classical musician for more than 15 years. Thanks to her love of pop culture, Ren feels she managed to overcome the cultural divides that come with being a first-generation Asian-American, while her passion for American storytelling empowered her ability to fit in and achieve her desire to belong. But this has not been an easy journey and her desire for perfection made her take dangerous side avenues. She is a survivor in recovery from multiple eating disorders and addictions and her healing route inspires her music and passionate advocacy for mental health.
‘I started songwriting at a very desperate point in my life when I felt scared of everything,’ Ren Liu says. ‘I was feeling very out of control of myself and my relationships. There were more tears than relief, more yearning than satisfaction.’ ‘As someone who lives with anxiety and depression in recovery and sobriety, I really hope my music can help listeners feel seen in their moments of fear,’ she adds. ‘I want to give a sense of serenity to the roller coaster ride of living with mental illness.’
Serenity seems indeed to inhabit her dreamy music, while a desire for peace and beauty oozes from the lush instrumentations. The acoustic-guitar-driven ‘Take My Hand’ is a sweet song with a hooky youthfulness exuding modern indie pop blending with ‘70s folk and echoes of the LA canyons. The charming ‘Sweet Dreamland’ has an immediate vibe of a sweeping romantic pop ballad (and it comes with a fairy tale video directed by Brian M Tang), while ‘Prayer for a Stranger,’ explores a poignant soundscape of heavy strings with Ren’s yearning and bright vocals. ‘It was my love letter to the Al-Anon community (loved ones of alcoholics),’ she says of the title track, ‘because of what that group did for me and my own healing. So I do really hope anyone within that community can resonate and feel peaceful in regards to that song.’
In 2020, this message is particularly pertinent ‘I think ‘Prayer for a Stranger’ is especially relevant this year where everyone’s mental health has been tested in unprecedented ways,’ Ren says. ‘It is a year of deep reflection. I wrote this album looking for serenity and I hope that it can give a similar wave of serenity for listeners.’
Listen to ‘Prayer For a Stranger’ and watch the video for ‘Sweet Dreamland’ below: