Blues music in the UK by nature and substance is an uncharted movement, and one in which you’ve got to dig around to find good contemporary releases. The genre has never fully permeated mainstream music and for a good reason – it has no desire to. The pure, honest rawness that the voice of a blues legend conveys will hit home with anyone who wants to listen carefully enough.
Bluestown is one such record, and one that looks set to announce Rag’n’Bone Man on to the UK Blues stage.
Also playing a prominent role as singer in hip-hop collective Rum Committee, Rag’n’Bone Man’s vocal talent and exposure has grown among not only those in the know, but also those whose attention he captured thanks to a series of noteworthy performances at a selection of gigs and festivals across the UK over this summer.
A 2012 to remember culminated with an appearance supporting music legend Joan Armertrading in a sold-out gig at Brighton Dome; an opportunity awarded to him after being selected from hundreds of entries. Take note – there is a reason to get excited about Rag’n’Bone Man.
The Bluestown EP sees him display a full range of talents as a musician capable of turning his hand to both the guitar and harmonica, with equally emotive results. His real forte, and one which is hard to coach, is his ability to evoke the Blues greats through a voice that seems to emanate straight from a tortured soul. This delivery makes you believe in his word within an inch of your life; true salt of the earth.
From the moment Rag’n’Bone’s harmonies puncture the ambient backdrop of Die Easy, the listener is instantly transported to a level he is playing on – a sound that holds such tradition and so rare to discover. Visions are brought swiftly to the conscious of a smoke drenched bar, rum in hand. A place where music may not be entertainment but more of a voice and slow tune holding your eager attention, knowing the bartender is close by.
That’s not to say that Bluestown is solely blues record – the hip-hop influences that inspired his first direction to write and perform live music are strong and interwoven with Rag’n’Bone’s acoustic ballads. This is never more evident than in his adept delivery of the hook on the mellow Daylight Fading, featuring fellow Rum Committee member Ceezlin.
Whether it’s the unplugged High Heeled Sneakers, the more melancholic, beat-driven Bottom of the Bottle or the hard-hitting lyrics and Blues lick of Tell’Em Like It Is, it’s not difficult to see why Rag’n’Bone Man has gained fans across a range of musical genres.
A strong and much needed release to open the floodgates of his talent, Bluestown is just the tip of the iceberg. With more albums, live band projects and killer rap hooks in the pipeline, it’s clear that Rag’n’Bone is a man with a tale to tell and no shortage of those wanting a front row seat at the recital.