FRIDAY is the sacrosanct day where new music emerges and this week sees Raleigh Ritchie release his debut album ‘You’re A Man Now, Boy’. Quays News reporter Nathan Salt was fortunate enough to be given an early copy…

Whether you know him as Jacob Anderson, Grey Worm from the hit TV show Game of Thrones or Raleigh Ritchie, the 25-year-old Bristol-born ‘jack-of-all-trades’ is everywhere right now as his stock continues to soar.

Fans of Ritchie have been made to wait three years for this debut album after his last release was an EP entitled ‘The Middle Child’ back in 2013. A confessional album that places emphasis on his soothing, alternative R&B vocal is an album which will delight his patient fan-base.

‘You’re A Man Now, Boy’ opens with trip-pop track ‘Werld is Mine’ (that really is how it’s spelt) which is a strong start to the album. An artist deserves particular praise when creating an album that is particularly strong when it opens and closes and Ritchie has got it spot on for both fronts.

Unsurprisingly, the album’s key theme is love – a theme that many artists turn to when it comes to the tricky songwriting process. Love is relatable and arguably shows the inner vulnerabilities of an artist, only further endearing them to fans.

A rapport and similarity to those listening is critical for 21st century songwriters.

But this is far from 12 Adele or Kwabs-like ballads. Raleigh Ritchie’s album provides listeners with a unique blend of pop and R&B with the occasional ballad thrown in for good measure such as the final piece-de-résistance: ‘Last Romance’.

The Game of Thrones star has a vocal arsenal that rivals any emerging talent throughout the industry right now with a delicate vocal equally as effective in a semi-rap style, demonstrated in track seven ‘I Can Change’.

It’s a track that references his immaturity and his longing to change for a partner, which illustrates that anecdotal vulnerability referenced above. It also, crucially, exudes the album title with the finished album evidence of him as a new man: no longer the immature boy that is at the centre of the album’s narrative.

Add in his powerful falsetto and it’s a vocal range to be proud of, with the versatility adaptable depending on each track’s differing vibes.

To pinpoint a key highlight and a key weakness from the album is a challenge for even the harshest of critics, but ‘Bloodsport ‘15’ is a track that particularly captivates. Not out of place as a single in the UK chart recently, the track’s key sell is in its catchy chorus and underlying beat.

Whilst the focus is rightfully on Ritchie and the ‘journey’ that he has been on in the process of putting this album together, one other artist features on the record and that is viral rapper Stormzy on ‘Keep it Simple’.

I don’t care how many people it is, but I want somebody to listen and I hope it helps them in some way, or they can relate to it in some way. At the end of it, I’m happy. It’s exactly the debut album I’m supposed to make. – Raleigh Ritchie, DJBooth interview

It’s a raw album; emotive with bags of pathos (without the need to get out the violin), but that, in essence, is part of its charm as Ritchie makes his first foray into the mainstream album charts.

Never Better’ and ‘Cowards’ are tracks that possess hooks and riffs that are wholly original. The latter is a sign of Ritchie’s willingness to experiment musically and it’s more than paid off given initial reviews from industry experts have seen that track pencilled as the one.

Raleigh Ritchie knows his craft well and that shines through upon a listen but much like Kwabs many months ago, it is questionable as to whether this debut album can really entice that large pool of mainstreamers that have such an influence on the chart rankings.

Last Romance‘ is as poetic as it gets to end an album and is arguably Ritchie at his finest – no bass drum, pop beat, it’s simply a stripped back vocal telling the listener a story; a story to make even the love-cynics re-evaluate their stance.

It may have taken three years but Friday’s release will prove that quality and refinement takes time. Apologies Game of Thrones fans, Raleigh Ritchie’s future – on this evidence – appears to be in the music industry…

By Nathan Salt

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