Saturday, 21 July 2012

REVIEW: Luke Ritchie - The Waters Edge - listen

Luke Ritchie's debut album was originally released digitally in November last year, and finally gets a physical release in July. 'The Water's Edge' was born out of an experiment by Ritchie where he would compose a new song every week for 6 months, and the resulting 26 tracks were eventually whittled down to the 11 very best ones. At times his music does bear hints of certain other artists but Ritchie's style and approach is very much his own. 

The opening 'The Lighthouse' could easily fool you into thinking that the rest of this album is going to sound a bit like Snow Patrol covering Radiohead. But then comes the brilliant 'Shanty', where Ritchie takes the tempo up a notch and shows that he's made of edgier stuff as the stormy folk rock rhythms bring to mind a cross-pollination of Tom Williams And the Boat and Frank Turner. The stunning 'Off Your Guard' slips into a lovely time change towards the end and provides one of three standout tracks, displaying this artist's gift for delicate acoustic notes and powerfully heartfelt melodies. The John Martyn-like 'Cover It Up' is breezy and lightly funky and has 'radio hit' written all over it, while 'Words' is another highlight, a haunting piano-led heartbreaker where Ritchie's voice well and truly soars on its magnificent chorus.

'Butterfly' is a folky and mysterious toe-tapper which comes arranged and produced impeccably, while the wonderfully minimal 'Northern Lights' represents his finest work so far with its sublime Nick Drake-esque melody, more lovely guitar plucking and a truly magical string arrangement. It's moments like these where Ritchie really excels. Although based on organic acoustic arrangements, the music itself often comes alive with an electrifying passion, like on the superb 'Lonely Second', a jaunty and very upbeat number with a chorus that becomes extremely catchy after just a few listens. On the gorgeous 'Looking Glass', the subtle yet stunning Icelandic strings create further ambience and lift the song to a panoramic level, while the warm sincere tones of Ritchie's vocals flow through each line in a way that proves very easy on the ear.

The mournfully ghostly 'Right There And Then' shows a rather downbeat side to his minimal acoustics, while the closing 'Song To Sundays' finishes the album on a high as shuffling brushed snares and charming melodies combine, with Ritchie's delicate tone rising into a full throated cry as the track builds and breaks into joyous light.

It's a well crafted collection of songs that are delivered with a humble warmth and blessed with irresistibly exquisite arrangements that compliment the engaging vocals perfectly. Never once sounding forced or awkward, it's an equal combination of folk, rock, indie and pop that is sure to win this brightly talented singer songwriter many new fans. 8

Buy the album HERE.

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