Raleigh Ritchie - Andy Album Review
By Cameron Cade
Raleigh Ritchie, the stage name of the artist and actor Jacob Anderson, returns with his sophomore album Andy. Brandishing his more unique flavour of melancholic pop, the album is a tough and self-deprecating ride through Anderson’s feelings around loss of childhood, death, fame, family and self-worth. Andy is entertaining and thoughtful, but you often wish that the album pushed itself to greater heights with the amount of potential it has with the genre and the topics at hand.
Throughout the album the production is unique even compared to other artists creating similar music like Frank Ocean. Anderson replaces the largely piano-led instrumentals of his previous album You're a Man Now, Boy with strings as an underlying mainstay of most of the tracks adding to the greater focus on a reflective tone within the album.
'Time in a Tree' is the track that stood out for me most amongst the others. This track has been a mainstay of my playlists since it dropped as a single. Lyrically the song is a masterstroke. Every verse and bar is a gut-wrenching hit leaving you in the exact same position as Anderson on the track; reminiscing on your childhood and wishing things could go back to being that simple. Instrumentally the track is infectious with booming drums complimenting the wavy synths and dreamlike strings surprisingly well. 'Time in a Tree' is proof of what this album can reach and unfortunately its brilliance leaves you wanting the same from other tracks.
'STFU' as a track highlights Anderson’s vocal performance. This song shows the full contrast between his soft and relaxed singing versus against his more preformative bars. Not only does this song highlight the brilliance of Anderson’s performance but the rest of the album also shows how he modulates each style enough to help each vocal performance feel unique.
'Big & Scared', the final track of the album is a brilliant finale and is the most saddening and hard-hitting of the tracks. Portrayed as a conversation with his younger self, Anderson talks to his younger self about overcoming and fighting the hardships he’ll have to face, telling him everything you’d want to tell your younger self to help them “be better” than you were.
The best parts of Andy are awe-inspiring and thought-provoking. The lowest parts are still great but not at the level already set by other tracks. When one aspect of the track fails it is propped up by another, creating an album that feels like a way to help reflection on our own feelings of anxiety surrounding our experiences. It ultimately leaves you with the realisation that nostalgia for your childhood is a common part of our lives in the western world. Holding onto things that are familiar to yourself is to be taken as a sign that you’ve improved, whether we believe it or not.