Rag’n’Bone Man – Life by Misadventure
The thundering handclaps of Human still circulate our periphery with all the initial soul that rendered the track a staggering success for Rag’n’Bone Man in 2016. Such a triumph, in fact, that much of his subsequent work suffers under its shadow. Serving sensitive masculinity through baritone blues and bass-driven ballads, the singer-songwriter has chiselled through the veil of auto-tuned aesthetic, humbly seeking rooted, stoic realism instead. Life by Misadventure is the second album from the British breakthrough singer, offstage known as Rory Graham, whose musical journey began with underground hiphop.
This record favours pattering acoustic over big bass. Mild variations of melody create iterations of a certain rhythm, becoming the established sound for much of the track-list, acoustic beginnings, later boosted by earthy beats, framing deep vocals. The results are certainly sturdy, purposeful compositions; consistently high quality production propels vocals that never hesitate in their power. But a sound listeners comfortably indulge in loses its impact when it resists riskier pathways. Those tracks that do hint at a diversion from recognised patterns are often let down by washed-out lyrics, failing to match the punch of his evident emotion.
Changing of the Guard is one of the songs that catches the attention with its more assertive determination. The forward impetus imbues the sound with a drive that prevents it from staying put for too long. Somewhere Along the Way and Party’s Over also seek fresher approaches. The former sets itself up well with a jazzy, accented tone, but the lyrics lack gumption and numb some of the sharpness of its intentions. Nevertheless, both tracks provide rusty blues with the added groove that listeners crave.
Breathe Me is stirring and plays like a letter of vulnerable declarations wishing freedom for another. Poised as the follow up track to Fireflies, with its warm resonance of spring sounds and glossy female harmonies, a peaceful sense of acceptance is conjured. “Old man tears for a young man’s dreams” is delivered with a Southern ease, surrendering to nostalgia with all the rawness that the singer’s voice possesses.
Anywhere Away from Here, the anticipated single with P!nk, honours the lung power of the pair. It’s a paced ballad that doesn’t attempt to prove anything beyond the strength in their collaboration. Rag’n’Bone Man suits this type of restless tension best, aligning flawlessly with a fellow artist with whom he shares the same rich spirit.
There is prosaic padding in this album, with standard temperate acoustic rhythms employed that are kept appealing often only by urban undertones. The success of Human, and tracks with similar stimulation, prove Rag’n’Bone Mans excels in an almost agitated, raw expression; therefore, the perhaps complacent optimism here feels as though he is working at one gear lower than full force. Nonetheless, he never lacks an enveloping soulfulness and continues to tremble grounds with blazing vocals, all the heartier coming from such an amiable, honest persona.
Life by Misadventure is released on 7th May 2021. For further information or to order the album visit Rag’n’Bone Man’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Anywhere Away from Here here: