Raleigh Ritchie delivers a stunning album which demonstrates the talent and versatility of the young singer, rapper and actor.
You might think you’ve never heard the voice of Raleigh Ritchie, but there’s quite a good chance you are wrong. If you’ve ever watched the hugely successful HBO series Game of Thrones, you’ll be aware of Grey Worm, the sullen yet devoted leader of Daenerys Targaryen’s army, the Unsullied. Turns out the talent of his actor, Jacob Anderson, extends beyond the field of acting, and, under his stage name Raleigh Ritchie, he’s broken into the music world with his debut album, You’re A Man Now, Boy.
After a string of EP and singles of limited success, Ritchie’s debut album finally appeared last month, and it’s a masterpiece. It’s a glorious blend of genres – a mix of R&B, soul, and electronica – and Ritchie’s soothing vocals suit all. He has a softness that contradicts his ‘street-corner lad’ image, but looking deeper, this contradiction is the album’s main message. He’s a young man breaking away from his youth, and songs such as the eponymous ‘You’re A Man Now, Boy’, and ‘Young & Stupid’ show how much of a struggle this is. It’s relatable to any teenager, the pain of growing up – or as Raleigh says ‘I’m not growing up, I’m just ageing’.
‘Bloodsport ’15’ is a standout track on the album. The single for this was released several years ago, but it perfectly sums up Ritchie’s style. Powerful orchestral scores echo over the chorus, increasing the lovelorn feel of the song, but are replaced with simple, repetitive drum beats backing the verses. A rap bridge shows Ritchie’s versatility when it comes to music further – rapping and singing together is a talent which only a select few artists can handle well, putting Ritchie at the talent level of the massively successful Ed Sheeran in my mind.
Raleigh Ritchie makes his success pretty single-handedly as well, impressive for a debut album. The only feature comes from rising talent rapper Stormzy on ‘Keep it Simple’, which is admittedly another of the album’s best tracks. Other honourable mentions must go to the hypnotic ‘Cowards’, which I had to listen to over and over again for several days; the emotive ‘Stronger than Ever’, in which the lyrics really stand out for a singer climbing for success (‘I fall but when I rise I’ll be stronger than ever’); and, on the opposite end of the spectrum of music, ‘The Last Romance’, a soft, melodic love song. Every song shows vulnerability and humanity, and it’s so easy to connect with Ritchie and his lyrics.
Each track is different to the last, making listening to Ritchie over and over again for this album review far from a chore. It’s remarkable that I discovered such a talented artist through word of mouth, and I expect massive things from him. Let’s hope a silver lining in Game of Thrones soon drawing to a close might be Jacob Anderson focusing more on his music career and continuing along the path to stardom. Bravo, Raleigh Ritchie.
You’re A Man Now, Boy is out now via Columbia Records.