Ask a singer-songwriter what the best way of grabbing a slice of the music industry are and they will probably tell you two things: firstly post absolutely everything online, thus gaining a cult following. Second, get your music out there by covering as many miles as possible. Folk artist Luke Ritchie has done both of these, on a big scale. In 2010 Ritchie wrote 26 songs in six months, which racked up over 8500 downloads when put online. More recently his music was sent out all over the world via 80 mp3 players placed in tobacco tins, each with instructions to listen and pass it on. Already Ritchie’s music has reached waterfalls in Venezuela and beaches in Australia, its success no doubt helping to earn him a deal with Angel Falls records. Yet he stills remains a somewhat unknown entity in a British folk music marketplace featuring such names as Ben Howard and Mumford and Sons.
‘Butterfly’ is the new single from debut album The Water’s Edge, an upbeat track of well-produced guitars and snares, it bounces along sounding all well and good. Ritchie’s vocals are tidy and the melodies catchy, at points he reaches almost Frank Turner-esque levels of sing-along harmonies. ‘Butterfly’ is a rich and warm track, telling the story of finding a delicate butterfly, the lyrics “sometimes I fear I can’t handle this” touch on obvious self-doubts and the fragilities in life.
The track never strays into any unorthodox hoedowns or heartfelt ooh-ooh moments however, and this may be its downfall. Ritchie is obviously an accomplished musician, capable of writing many a song, but the mere neatness of ‘Butterfly’ means it is unlikely to standout to fans of other popular singer songwriters such as Ed Sheeran or Ben Howard. Ritchie’s vocals aren’t quite emotive enough to create heart-breaking empathy such as Lucy Rose or James Vincent Mcmorrow, nor are the melodies catchy or haggard enough to harness the raw intimacy of acoustic music. In a market near saturated with ‘new folk’ it seems Ritchie’s brand of classic folk will struggle to break the surface.
Of course he seems a hard-working respected musician who will undoubtedly pick up fans with his carefree style of pop-folk, yet whilst the competition still remains fierce ‘Butterfly’ is at risk of just adorning your summer Sunday morning playlist. Ritchie clearly has swathes of ability and it is likely that The Water’s Edge will be a comfortable and pleasant debut. One hopes, as his name spreads worldwide, that Ritchie decides to take a risk and allow his music become truly unique so that he can breakout and fly.
Luke Ritchie is currently on a Freshers Tour around the UK with his sister Charlotte Ritchie, who plays Oregon in E4’s student comedy Fresh Meat. The duo will play at Southampton’s Freshers Ball on Monday October 8th. Debut album The Water’s Edge is out now.