Rhys Lewis – Things I Chose to Remember
In a digital era of Spotify streams and technology, singer-songwriter Rhys Lewis has opted to record his first album entirely on analogue tape. It’s a rare move for an artist, and even bolder for a debut. Things I Chose to Remember sounds like it originates from a personal, self-reflective place – fitting for the recording process and suggested by the album art – and the result is a satisfying collection of both piano-led ballads and upbeat folk-pop. The singer-songwriter’s journal of love and loss might be a familiar formula, but it’s wrapped up in bluesy, soulful vocals that make it instantly magnetic.
Funnily enough, the Oxfordshire-born artist already has legions of fans on Spotify, and Things I Chose… opens with two of his most recognisable and streamed tracks: Better Than Today and No Right to Love You. The former is an ostensibly melancholic but hopeful opener that bats away worries with the words “times get tough but I don’t give up” – rather apt for an album that was originally scheduled for a mid-lockdown release. The latter reaffirms Lewis’s status as the new king of catchy heartbreak tunes. Gravelly tones and haunting falsetto lend themselves well to heart-wrenching tracks like the James Morrison-esque Be Your Man and When Was the Last Time?, which sings about dragging the pain out of a breakup, whilst What If ponders the end of a relationship with regret. The singer’s ability to evoke relationship-related memories is evident throughout many of the eleven tracks, striking chords through words and melody. In between this and the belting out of ballads, there are fine reminders of another British former breakout star named Adele.
There’s a little bit of playing it safe, but finale What Wild Things Were breaks away with trance-like keys and experimental synthesizers alongside environmentally-conscious, even apocalyptic, themes. It’s certainly an interesting note to conclude on. Mid-album gem Good People is a sunny and uplifting pop track reminiscent of Bill Withers, whilst the lazy Sunday blues of Some Days, and the clicks and guitar licks of Under the Sun, are happier highlights too.
Things I Chose to Remember captures the intimate, unglossy sound you would expect from tracks possibly penned in a bedroom like a diary. Lewis and collaborator Aidan Glover provide an extra-nostalgic, almost retro feel to the album. Be it old soul, choral harmonies or funk vibes to bop along to, it’s a very listenable and authentically grounded discography. But ultimately it’s the heartache anthems that shape this record and will make Lewis a 2020 name to remember.
Photo: Charlie Gates
Things I Chose to Remember is released on 10th July 2020. For further information or to order the album visit Rhys Lewis’s website here.
Watch the video for When Was the Last Time? here: