Written by Alessa Frenkel
2016 is closing with a smooth soulful bang that is Raleigh Ritchie’s EP Mind The Gap. After releasing his full 18 track album You’re A Man Now, Boy in February earlier this year, the singer graces us with 5 more simple feel-good tracks.
Going on to explain the title and the meaning of the record, Ritchie says, “The reason I want to put this EP out is to kind of cap off 2016. The album came out at the top of the year, and I felt like there was still stuff I hadn’t said, or stuff that I wanted to say with the record but they weren’t things that fitted, so I think of this as an epilogue. It’s not a complete departure, or a new sound, but more of a tag. I needed some closure before moving on to the second album So Mind The Gap is a closing of You’re A Man Now, Boy before the new year starts.”
Being known for bending the genre between Pop, R&B and a spoonful of Hip Hop, Mind The Gap plays with a more soulful synths heavy Electro-Pop and R&B sound that makes it hard to define what it actually is. Maybe that is why Raleigh purposefully draws attention to closing the gap not just between his two projects of 2016 but also as a trailblazer between more than just one genre. The record features collaborations with Chris Loco, Justin Broad, Paul Herman and none other than Grammy winner Anthony Kilhoffer known to have worked with names such as Kanye West and John Legend. Overall, Raleigh wanted to tell an untold story and here it is.
Motions starts off with two emotionless computer voices having an argument (“Female, I am so furious in this moment/I am also furious, listen to my vocal inflection/Now I am sad. I am sad because you are cruel, I am bored with you/You are the worst”). Set against a hard bass and synths that reflect the emotional up and down of a fight between a couple, the track talks about the utter despair of a broken relationship that is just about to end.
The Game of Thrones actor then deals with self-issues and the pressure of fitting into society on Sicko and even refers to the infamous movie Mean Girls when stating “I don’t wanna fit in/Sitting on the bench and/I don’t wanna sit with them”. The notion of the song is reflected in the chorus where the songwriter consciously twists the sound of his voice ranging from high pitches to low ranges. Nevertheless, the sound of the song could have been more unanimous with the actual content of it. Liability carries on the story of the previous song going on from dealing with issues in his head to the consequential feeling of being tired of destructing a relationship. Ritchie incorporates different rhythmic accents such as basslines, synths riffs and the simple tricks of his voice to reflect the notion of feeling all over the place.
StraitJacket plays with the battle of light and darkness, the torment of not quite being sure of what to want and the denial of self-destructive behavior. (“My mind is at it again/ I’m manic, I’m manic/Straight jacket/Put on my straight jacket/Split right down the middle/And half of me is fine/My mind is a riddle”). Overall the sound of the song feels like a cry for help with a constant contrast between a soulful melody and a hint of hip hop mixed in between heavy synths and dramatic violins.
Finally, the EP closes with Unicron Love which according to Raleigh himself is his favorite song on the record because of the many different sounds that he and producer Chris Loco worked on: “Unicron Love is about magical people. We all have magical people that bring color into our lives. The song is a celebration of them. Me and Chris Loco wanted to do something fun and use sounds we wouldn’t normally use and it was one of my favorite days in the studio ever.” It’s a chilled electro soulful song that instantly puts you in a good mood.
Once again, Raleigh Ritchie proves he is more than just a talented singer and actor but also displays his art at songwriting on Mind The Gap and will for sure be a name that will gain more and more importance over the years.
Watch the self-directed video for StraitJacket below.