Ever heard of Raleigh Ritchie? What about Jacob Anderson? The British actor known for his role of Gray Worm in Game Of Thrones? He is also a singer, songwriter, and producer with admirable qualities and undeniable potential to become a leading figure in the scene.

I have been following Ritchie for a little more than a year thanks to another on-point suggestion. His debut full-length You’re A Man Now, Boy unveiled a rare ability of deep self-reflection accompanied by thought-provoking remarks and imperative inspirational undertones. The release of his sophomore record – Andy motivated me to share my impressions and thoughts on the tracklist.

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Raleigh Ritchie (Jacob Anderson) is clearly a man of many talents. His knack for acting is undeniable and displayed with his participation in over 20 TV series and movies. However, I consider his true strength to be music.

Ritchie has been involved in the music field since 2005 but he started making himself visible in 2014 with the release of The Middle Child EP. This very record laid down the foundations of Raleigh Ritchie’s distinctive and impactful style and persona.

The Middle Child (2014) features a mental deep-dive blending sensitive personal issues and global problems which will once again reappear in You’re A Man Now, Boy and Andy with much more refined thought-process, conclusions, and illustrative metaphors.

Music seems to be the way Raleigh Ritchie reflects on himself and his relationship with others as his releases always include sublime monologues and thought-provoking remarks. What won me over as a long-lasting fan of his work were the heavy and hard-to-talk-about topics which Ritchie dissects bravely and plunges into without hesitation.

You can probably guess that exploring the depths of self-doubt, self-sabotage, anxiety, depression, and hopelessness is not an easy thing to do but the artist manages to push true them, find the roots of the problems and somehow emerge from the experience with liberating and empowering takeaways which bring a smile on the listener’s face. There is hope at the end of every desperate situation and Raleigh Ritchie helps it shine bright.

So much symbolism is packed in this video, it is magical

You’re A Man Now, Boy represented this exact confrontation with deeply-rooted setbacks such as anxiety and self-doubt. The artist gracefully fought his demons, won and lost battles but always managed to extract important lessons. This was an intriguing debut which also put high expectations for the next record and left us all wondering what comes next after the most daunting and terrifying subjects have already been challenged.

Second albums are weird. The difficult second album cliche is real shit. There’s an expectation on you based on what you’ve done before, but also an expectation that you’ll do something different. You put all the pressure on yourself to maintain what makes you special but still evolve. I guess what I’m saying is you can overthink these things.

Raleigh Ritchie via Twitter

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Listen to Andy by Raleigh Ritchie

Maintain what makes him special but still evolve is exactly what the artist did for the sophomore album. Andy doesn’t take unnecessary time for fancy preparations or introduction – Raleigh Ritchie knew what he wanted to convey and jumped right in.

Nevertheless, the album opener does feature a short playful intro instrumental

 

The opener Pressure is a great way to start the album considering the thematic which will prevail in the tracklist. The song is exactly what you would expect – it deals with the pressures of real life, overthinking, low self-esteem, doubt, and expectations. Things that unnecessarily overwhelm and burden the human’s brain.

One of my absolute favourites by the artist

 

Time In A Tree, the second track, was released back in August 2018 as a single and it is one of the songs which turned me into a dedicated follower of the artist. It being included on Andy makes absolute sense despite ageing two whole years.

Here, Ritchie discusses the same issues of dealing with stress, pressure, and expectations but emphasizes on the need of time to self-reflect and heal. The smooth, well-working metaphors greatly contribute to the impact of the song and complete the meaning the artist is trying to convey.

This song is such a mood

 

Andy does pay attention to most of the aspects which typically hinder one’s self-esteem and development. Aristocrats take a look at burdens of the past causing an inability to move forward. The song gives personal examples of how past mistakes and bad habits can affect the present and future.

Party Fear inspects another common issue – social anxiety. It illustrates the phenomenon to perfection and uses fitting instrumental and beat structure to match the theme.

Do you ever feel stuck?
Stuck in the middle of your life?
Wondering will it be alright?

Another mood!

 

And while Worries, 27 Club, and Sadboi bring back the general worries, overthinking, and negativity explored in different situations, STFU puts the focus on the need to take a break every once in a while. Similarly to Time In A Tree, the song explains that in order to cope and overcome the previously discussed issues one needs to be left alone and unbothered to be able to sort things out, breathe, and come back in a better state of mind.

 

In general, Andy as a whole is sharply focused on these several types of mental burdens. Almost the entire tracklist is dwelling into different aspects of pressure and self-sabotage with only a few pieces taking a slightly different direction.

The classical for modern music move – contrasting lyrical content and instrumental build-up prove to work well for this track as well

 

Shadow, for example, tells a captivating love story with an unfortunate development. Ritchie manages to showcase how never-ending love feels and puts forth the importance of each and every person who has been part of one’s life.

 

Squares, on the other hand, takes a different outlook on love and brings a more positive outlook. Here, Ritchie talks about defining your own rules and living life the way you see fit by gradually overcoming the previously dismantled expectations and pressure.

Structure brings balance between the two states of mind – the panic and the comfort. It represents the middle ground between chaos and harmony by pledging to find a way to cope negativity.

So far most artists who have used the “talking to my past self” approach have done it quite successfully

 

The intriguing but uneasy ride Andy represents concludes with a monologue aimed towards the artist’s past self. He remarks that life is filled with challenges that he will have to face and overcome by practising perseverance, dedication, and will power.

I personally think this is a truly fascinating way to end the album -highlighting the importance of a positive mindset. Ritchie once again confidently delivers the typical empowering aspect and adds a feeling of motivation to live and overcome.


 

Raleigh Ritchie did what every artist should strive to achieve. He preserved his recognizable style and managed to level-up his music by incorporating new elements, different inspiration, and even more depth to his songs.

The whole album features the expected simplicity of instrumental build-up but also has surprising switches and turns which add up excitement and prevent the record from getting repetitive or boring. Another Ritchie-favourite element – the string instrument addition is present full-power and notably contributes to the listening experience.

Simple yet effective Andy takes us on a rocky journey filled with painful self-exploration. However, the artist manages to deliver this in an easy-going, balanced way which is not overwhelming or saddening. Instead, he finds the way to use the negativity and troubles as a way of highlighting the importance of overcoming them and the need to keep going no matter what comes on our way.

Now the big question is – what will album three bring? In any case, I am certain Ritchie will not disappoint as long as he stays true to himself.


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