2016 was so full of extraordinary work by Black musicians that some – like Raleigh Ritchie – are falling through the cracks as Best-of-Year lists start appearing. (Fellow Brit singer/songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae, whose very impressive third album The Heart Speaks in Silence was also released this year, has been overshadowed by women artists from Beyonce and Solange to Laura Mvula and Emeli Sandé; Rae’s latest work easily stands alongside the best of them.)
Ritchie’s much-delayed and tinkered with debut album You’re a Man Now, Boy was released in February of this year. Maybe it appeared too soon. Because since it dropped, so much amazing, game-changing music has been released by Black artists across genres and national boundaries that his early-out-of-the-gate release hasn’t garnered the traction it deserves among music fans or critics. But that seemingly hasn’t dampened his spirit or his intense work ethic.
He’s closing out the year with the new EP Mind the Gap, which mines the same prickly, absorbing confessional terrain as its predecessor. His lyrics alternate between romantic tenderness and self-directed rage, fragility and numbed self-hate with a poet’s finesse, delivered in a singing style that is part emo indie rocker, part hip-hop swagger, part breezy soul-pop crooner. And he and his producers always come left-of-center, using computerized vocals, synth effects, hard beats and lush strings in ways that are both “classic” and forward looking.
Check out the EP’s first video, “StraitJacket,” and then stream the EP below.