West Philly singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rob’n Delaine first hit our radar during 2017’s Items Tagged Philadelphia project here at The Key, both appearing in collabs with artists like Gender Work and Elaine Rasnake, and impressing us with their own EP Westbound.

That collection of songs fused classic singer-songwriter melodies in the vein of Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell with crunchy rock guitar. Not long after its release, Rob’n Delaine took a bit of a break from music, but they return this week re-energized, cloaked in a new electronic pop sheen and boasting songwriting chops that are sharp as ever.

“Back in 2018 when I said I needed a bit of a hiatus music-wise, I didn’t plan for it to be three years long,” they said in announcing their new song “New Beginnings” on social media. “But I needed it.”

Their journey of self-discovery over that time involved coming out as non-binary, embracing their more expansive vocal range — “contrary to my own former beliefs, I’m actually a soprano who also sings lower notes pretty solidly. Who knew? (I mean, I guess my vocal coach, lol)” — as well as confronting uncertainty and being willing to change paths in the creative process.

That involved bringing the melodies and words they wrote to a whole new sonic template — a glossy, synthesizer-heavy productions that booms like late 80s Depeche Mode as much as it glides like SZA in the 20-teens. The lyrics on “New Beginning” speak to the totality of Rob’n Delaine’s experience over the past few years, from creative growth to emotional turbulence and the complicated feelings around disconnecting from troubles in the larger world: “i don’t wanna feel numb / i just wanna move on / can i soak in the sun / if i’m always on the run?”

The aforementioned Elaine Rasnake of Daughterboard Audio mastered the track; Rob’n credits her for teaching them what they know about production. Listen to “New Beginnings” below and follow Rob’n Delaine on Instagram and Facebook.