Luke Ritchie - The Water's Edge
After revolutionaries Radiohead championed a 'pay what you think it's worth' approach for their album In Rainbows, fledgling artists have cottoned on to more alternative ways of getting their voices heard. Emerging talent Luke Ritchie left USB copies of his debut The Water's Edge inside tobacco tins with luggage labels inviting people to photograph them in interesting places, an idea that has seen photos returned from as far afield as Australia.
'The Lighthouse' is nice. That's not meant in a condescending way, but it lacks the fire of Marcus Mumford or the pained emotion of Ben Howard, I can imagine though that if it were played in a deeply soppy romantic film it would be propelled straight onto the mp3's majority of the UK's females. 'Shanty' fares better with its more rock n roll tinged edge garnered from Ritchie's interest in 'dynamic singers' and past incarnation in a university rock band called Sevenball.
The more pronounced bass in 'Cover It Up' gives the record a much needed change from self- pitying melancholy into a more upbeat and dare I say it perkier direction. But the pace quickly drops again on 'Words', where Ritchie soothes 'I dreamt she died'... We've had nu-folk; could this be a new subgenre of 'doom-folk'? If 'Words' left you feeling suitably deflated then 'Lonely Second' might just be the pick me up you need, centred around a simple yet powerful acoustic rhythm melody and subtle harmonies courtesy of; once Jazz Vocalist Of The Year nominee, Nia Lynn.
'Looking Glass' continues the trend of the album that sees an erratic zigzag from one style to another, and whilst I'll agree that; and perhaps moreso on a debut record, artists must demonstrate a variety of styles so as to appeal to a wide audience, I don't agree that it works for all musicians. The pained strumming of 'Right Then And There' seems licked straight from Timshel by Mumford & Sons, but has been somehow made even darker and brooding at the hands of one time Anthony & The Johnson's producer Nico Muhly.
My problem with The Water's Edge is that I cannot pin-point why it lacks that wow factor that distinguishes an average record from a great record. Whilst I am no connoisseur of what makes good or bad country/folk music, I just can't get what Ritchie's end goal with this record was. It seems like a folk record for people that don't like folk records.