Rag’N’Bone Man: ‘Bluestown’ – Review

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I was first introduced to Rum Committee at Concorde 2; the hip-hop collective were one of the main support acts for legendary MF DOOM.

The sustained energy with which they perform stood out for me. They enjoy rapping together, that’s what makes them click. Watching their live set is a fun, memorable experience and I personally think of the group as a showcase for Brighton’s ever-growing music scene. For the next few weeks I found myself looking up their material; which included an album and a mixtape, which unsurprisingly are still in my playlist.

Both releases feature vocalist Rag’N’Bone Man. Whether he’s laying down a hook or a verse; you get a sense of his varied musical influence, which is certainly unique to Brighton. The ‘Bluestown’ EP has been something I’ve looking forward to since I first heard its announcement. The work contains songs which cover wide areas of Blues music from Mississippi to Brighton. It puts the impact Blues had on music into perspective.

The legendary blues song ‘St James (Infirmary)’ is taken into Rag’N’Bone Man’s stride. Keeping it acoustic takes the song back to its roots and emphasises its soulful status; highlighting why so many great artists have covered it.

Shooting forwards through the musical timeline is the track ‘Daylight Fading’. This track is a good example of Rory’s ability to experiment with these genres. The era of 70’s New York / Chicago R&B, soul resonates in this track. The chords from the organ and saxophone set a cool, laidback theme accompanying Rag’N’Bone’s gospel singer-like backing vocals. Ceezlin’s bars also give the track a nice dynamic; by incorporating a piece of the Brighton rap scene into the album. It’s interesting to see how natural rap music sounds over this kind of music.

Going back in time again, the track ‘Right From Wrong’ booms from his delta blues influences. This could be my favourite track from the EP; a typical theme of having something desirable to attain and its contrast to the real world. Although the subject matter may have changed dramatically, this style of songwriting will always be relevant and takes nothing away from the emotion invested into his performance and delivery. Once again, a simple combination of acoustic guitar and harmonica gives an image of a classic blues song.

I could happily listen to an album of Rag’N’Bone Man’s acoustic sessions. His ability to set a tone with his voice is astonishing and the task of creative original lyricism is second to none.

Heading forward once more we get to the track ‘Tell ‘Em Like It Is’. This has become somewhat of an anthem for Rag’N’Bone. The vocals show the strength of his vocal range; the drum pattern has a distinct Hip Hop influence reminding us of his music with Rum Committee. The electric guitar riffs, which are the main part of this instrumental, pay homage to the Rock & Roll era starting in the 50’s which owe pretty much everything to the heavy influences Blues music gave to the world. The track is another perfect example of why ‘Bluestown’ is more than just a Blues album.

Something, which is often difficult with music, is that it is easy to link it to a certain type of person. However, this album is one that should be recommended to anyone and everyone.

Listen and download the album from below!

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