Raleigh Ritchie Retrospects on Sophomore Album 'Andy'
Updated: 4 days ago
An anthology of introspection, healing and growth, everyone can hear themselves on 'Andy'
The unnerving tradition of replicating one's debut success is a pressure most artists have to face sooner rather than later. The time between records for an artist to evolve is often squandered by a demand to release, something UK Singer-Songwriter and Game Of Thrones actor Raleigh Ritchie (aka Jacob Anderson) refused to entertain. The much-loved artist has finally released his long-awaited sophomore album ‘Andy’ following on from his smash 2016 debut ‘You’re A Man Now, Boy’. Produced and written mainly with Chris Loco and GRADES ‘Andy’ is poignant and timeless, a true social commentary from a highly respected figure in Black British music that discusses themes such as mental health, self-reflection, bad habits and love. A deep dive into the mind of Raleigh, the album is a slow-burner, ideally enjoyed on a relaxing summer evening walk as it will undeniably provoke thoughts about love, loss and life as you pass through the records strong sonic journey.
Clearly leaping out of the comfort zone in order to write this project, Raleigh has mined his soul for answers to why he is the way he is, showcasing the good, the bad and the ugly alike. 'Andy' is both challenging and comforting as we often hear him singing to his inner child, searching for answers he may never find and trying to remain hopeful in the face of negativity and fear. With intelligent, cathartic and soul-baring lyrics and a uniquely soulful sound palette of Mellotrons, ethereal string arrangements, hip-hop beats, vintage synths, jazz samples and tape stops, 'Andy' is not one to be missed, challenging the trials and tribulations life has to offer, all while sounding beautifully vintage with a modern twist in true Raleigh Ritchie style.
The album opens with ‘Pressure’ a confessional about how hard it is to be a better version of yourself, the combination of trap bass and the stunning string arrangement almost foreshadows the two different sides of life we see Raleigh discuss on the record floating between beauty and harshness and setting the tone for what is to be an incredibly human record. The song similarly to a few others on the album ends with the simple Mantra "Breathe". Following 'Pressure' is the highly successful 'Time In A Tree' which was released last year, currently standing at just under twelve million streams on Spotify. This track is the first to introduce the connection between Raleigh and his younger self, the album is laced with nostalgic memories of things that would make him feel happy or relieved as a child (In this case climbing trees), as-well-as things that made him feel the opposite way growing up.
'Time In A Tree' is about needing some peace. Some respite, some time away from your own mind. The ways that you can get in your own way on the way to those things. It’s about the fear of not being deserving of happiness, or that you’re not doing enough to get the kind of happiness you want. It’s about needing validation and confirmation that you’re loved and supported when you’re struggling. It’s about needing time in a tree, like a kid – off the ground and halfway in the sky. - RR
Next up is the brilliant first single off of the project ‘Aristocrats’ a song that discusses the dark and tragic history of P.O.C in Britian as-well-as his own experience growing up Black, which we reviewed here. Over the next few tracks ‘Party Fear’, ‘Worries’, ’STFU’ and ‘Sadboi’ Raleigh delves into what having anxiety feels like to him and the album falls into a more experimental tone production-wise (perhaps to reflect the feeling of battling with mental health). Lyrically Raleigh is discussing topics that most male artists would shy away from, which is what makes 'Andy' quite so special and relatable to the masses. The production becomes less traditional, featuring Frank Ocean esque switches, disjunct rhythms, hip hop drops, big band arrangements, pitched shifted cheers, and mellow piano-outros. '27 Club' easily has some of the most powerful lyrics on the record as Raleigh discusses how he’s made it past the infamous age of death for many famous musicians and how he was surprised that things got better for him.
I feel bad I never joined the 27 Club
I never knew that I would fall in love, level up
Made a date with the devil and then I stood him up
I'm still afraid he's gonna get to me and settle up
My potential is a double edged sword, a cheque I wanna cash, can't afford
F*ck it, I'm a liar, I'm a fraud, rather hit a wall than a door
We've been here before
Maybe I get tired being awful
Maybe I could try it with the small talk, maybe I'm a riot when I'm on one
Maybe I'm the one, maybe God's son
Maybe I'm a Swan song gone wrong
There's no black in the Union Jack but that's history
Must be a sign on my back that says "Kick me"
Every sly look I ever got stays with me
Every cheap shot they ever took never missed me
'Shadow' sees the tone change again into a more embracing feel and is the turning point on the record where we feel the artist starts the journey of making peace with his dispositions. Raleigh sings to his shadow referring to the old version of himself as a friend. ‘Structure (Interlude)' follows, recorded on his iPhone which adds a nice vulnerable touch as he discusses the many ways he has grown and advanced from past bad habits:
Evolution in the making
Used to break shit, now I make things
And next time my heart is breaking
Or my brain hurts, I won't break things
Next up is 'Squares' which is probably the most beautiful and heartfelt song on the record seemingly dedicated to the artist's wife. The metaphor is uncomplicated but sweet as the lyrics state he wishes to simply reject the complications of life as they would rather be squares in a round world as long as they are together. 'Andy' closes with the wondrous ode to his inner child ‘Big And Scared’. Andy was the nickname given to young Jacob by his Grandfather and the lyrical tone perhaps suggest his grandfather speaking to him as-well-as himself. The most nostalgic and childlike song on the record, the record comes full circle from the harsher intro 'Pressure' back to a place where the artist feels safe and happy again, metaphorically sat back up in that tree, but this time armed with the ability to understand his emotions, struggles and life itself so much better.
New Wave Rating: 8/10
Top Songs: Aristocrats, 27 Club, Squares
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