Four whole years the R&B world had to survive without a record from Raleigh Ritchie – and in that time, he’s done a lot. Most notably, he played Grey Worm in the award-winning cult favourite Game Of Thrones, and this actor-turned-singer knows a thing or two about conveying his emotions. His debut album, 2016’s ‘You’re a Man Now, Boy’, was deeply introspective, suggesting that his next venture would be just as self-cleansing and honest as the last. And, luckily, ‘Andy’ delivers on that front.
In true ‘Sadboi’ (the name of a retro-themed song on the record) style, ‘Andy’ exudes a cathartic tone, Ritchie sharing the intimate thoughts we all keep in the shadows. The slow, sombre tones of the opening tracks reflect this perfectly. Whether it’s the constant tempo change of ‘Pressure’ – a soulful track exploring self ambition – or ‘Aristocrats’’ mournful approach to change, Ritchie taps into different stages of sadness. ‘Time In A Tree’, first released as a single two years ago, still holds up. Produced by Croydon’s Daniel Traynor – aka Grades – the track turns the world black and white as nostalgia-inducing strings evoke the tone of a classic Hollywood film. Laced with questioning thoughts, ‘Time In A Tree’ is one for the anxious types: “Swimming against the current / Am I wrong? / Can you show me a warrant?”.
Later in the album picks up in tempo, Ritchie focusing on the so-called ‘27 Club’. With legends such as Amy Winehouse and Jimi Hendrix having passed at the tender age, it’s led many musicians and creatives to fear they might meet a similar fate – rappers Lil Uzi Vert and Ski Mask have said they feel this way – and 30-year-old Ritchie expresses gratitude for having passed this milestone. Or, as he puts it: “Made a deal with the Devil and stood him up.”
‘Andy’ is named after the musician’s grandfather, and there’s bruised optimism throughout the album. Despite the sometimes melancholy moments, this is a more upbeat and lighter record than ‘You’re a Man Now, Boy’. ;Andy’ is a refreshing album to listen to when you want to reset your life and your focus. Raleigh Ritchie takes the bitter things in life and makes sound sweet, and that may be all we need right now.
Release date: June 26
Record label: Alacran Records