Name: Jacob Basil Anderson
Language of Discography: English
Genre: Alternative R&B
Jacob Anderson, who also goes by the stage name Raleigh Ritchie, is an English actor, singer-songwriter, rapper, and record producer. So I guess he’s got a lot going on. While he has participated in multiple projects since debuting as an actor in 2007, Anderson is probably most known for his recurring role in Game of Thrones as Grey Worm. But we’re not necessarily here to discuss Jacob Anderson so much as his musical alias Raleigh Ritchie.
In 2013 Anderson signed to Columbia Records, and released his EP The Middle Child; his second EP Black and Blue was released in 2014. His official debut album You’re a Man Now, Boy was released in February 26, 2016.
My introduction to Raleigh Ritchie, like a lot of other artists, was through random occurrence through a friend. As he was dropping me back off at my home, we listened to music for a bit in his car. That’s when a smooth voice saturated with an unapologetic English accent started playing. If you know me, you know that accents are my thing. Just in general I love hearing an accent of just about any kind. Immediately, I took down the name and looked him up later that night. I was not disappointed.
If there is one word I could use to describe Ritchie’s music and his singing style, it would be: emotional. Raleigh Ritchie may not be the artist that wows his audience with vocal acrobatics and diverse dynamics, but his relatable content and genuine delivery has a way of pulling the listener into the song. It’s one thing to impress the audience with your vocal talent, but it’s also a talent to appeal to a listener’s emotions and have them relate to those of the narrator. I would assume that this talent has been strengthened through his background as an actor. Even so, I wouldn’t necessarily disregard his voice. Ritchie may not implement complex dynamics, but his style is still strategic. In every word, breath, pause, there is intention.
Take the track, Stronger Than Ever, for example. The song undoubtedly comes from a personal place, as the narrator goes back and forth between statements of self-assurance and reveals of doubt and insecurity. It’s like going from “I’m good, I’ve got got this, I’m not alone” to “No, what am I saying? I’m not alright, nothing’s coming to me. I can’t do this” Before the final chorus he goes into this verse that highlights that:
Believe me when I say I’m gonna be big
explosions crack through thunderous mountains
Hearts exploding, minds, volcanoes pop and blow
I’m not alone, I’m not alone
Who am I kidding? I’m sad, no ideas coming
It’s driving me mad and I’m fighting it
It’s turning me bad, I’m loaded, pages taking me over
I just wanna be home with all my friends and family
Mum and dad, it’s closing in on me, I need recovery, coming home
I’m coming home and I need closure, I need closure
The song pairs very well with the music video, in which Ritchie struggles as he’s being blown away by an invisible force. Many fans interpret this to be the personification of anxiety and depression, being caught up in a whirlwind of emotions that only you are able to see and feel while onlookers are unable to understand what is truly happening.
We see such feelings of indecision in his other single Bloodsport; the pre-chorus reads:
If I fall short, if I break rank
It’s a bloodsport, but I understand
I am all yours, I am unmanned
I’m on all fours, willingly damned
While I’m not a fan of romanticizing toxic and/or dysfunctional relationships, Ritchie seems to perfectly capture what it’s like to be in such a stand-still with someone you care for. In the music video, a woman is never shown and we simply see the artist go back and forth between destroying his lover’s belongings and contemplating his feelings for her. The narrator admits fault on both sides of the coin, describing the two as “an army that breaks from within”.
His most recent release in August 2018 was the single Time in a Tree, his first release since the You’re a Man Now, Boy album in 2016. Time in a Tree embodies a slightly more mature sound but still captures the subject of self-reflection and self-awareness. When asked about the making of the song, Ritchie describes how the narrator is essentially trapped in a busy state of mind. It’s “traffic in the brain” as he puts it, wanting time to breathe and process but not completely sure how to do so.
Take some time to read this interview in which the artist goes more in-depth about his feelings regarding work on his album, doing live shows, and his desire to collaborate with other artists. I was happy to know that I’m not just listening to a talented artist, I’m also listening to a fellow Awkward Penguin who doesn’t tell his friends about his live shows and doesn’t really know how reaching out to people for collaborating works.
I wasn’t sure who to focus on for my first English-speaking AYSK but I’d like to think Raleigh Ritchie is a good choice. Anderson (I guess I’ll go back to calling him that now) has a lot going on within the next year when it comes to writing and directing, but he sites finishing a new album as his biggest priority. He’s going to be a busy bee, and I look forward to new content coming from him. And you should be looking forward to it as well. Stan talent, stan Awkward Penguins!
Your Friendly Neighborhood Awkward Penguin,