James Raftery – Everything
YOU TUBE: https://youtu.be/DqZvcTe82no
Electronic music rarely comes this sleek and polished. “Everything”, the title number from Rat Wakes Red mastermind James Raftery’s forthcoming album, travels a focused and intense straight line replete with samples, synthesizers, and loops that bring listeners in early on and hold their attention throughout. This is top shelf electronica and has a strong singer/songwriter perspective unlike anything else you’ll hear in this genre. Raftery understands how to put over artful music without ever sounding pretentious and this four and a half minute piece accomplishes a great deal despite traveling over relatively narrow sonic territory. Subtlety is key however and it’s what you don’t do that matters more than what you put in a song sometimes. Raftery’s musical vision is clear and listeners are lucky to accompany him for this ride. “Everything” ends up being everything electronic music can encompass and the voice at the center of it all never has to work hard for our attention.
The music definitely does an exemplary job of capturing our imagination. It has a no-nonsense thrust eschewing the sideshows and self-indulgent moments many often associate with the musical style. Instead, the loops, synthesizer, and computerized flow to the song has surprising warmth and a hard-charging energy that stays between the lines throughout and never fails to physically provoke listeners. It’s difficult not to tap your foot to this track or feel otherwise compelled to move. It isn’t all about manifesting the physical, however. “Everything” isn’t just some electronic instrumental with vocals arbitrarily laid over top. Instead, the music is clearly meant to contrast with the sensitivity of Raftery’s vocal and does so marvelously. The completeness of the musical and vocal presentation come together without any sense of the separate components being melded together to form an uneasy alliance.
The intensely human quality of Raftery’s vocal will make an impact and is difficult to forget. It never overreaches and tries to dominate the backing track but, as pointed out before, attempts tailoring itself to the song’s musical needs and strengths. The chorus is particularly strong all around. Raftery raises the vocal stakes some here, but never so much that it harms his performance or the song as a whole. Instead, his voice seems to be the key ingredient that ties the vocal, musical, and lyrical threads together in a nicely woven strand. The lyrics further undercut any erroneous impressions we have about the electronic form; these aren’t slapdash or poorly considered words, but have a larger theme and mix generalities and specific details together with an added personal touch that has a great effect. Songs like this don’t come along often in this genre; many of its practitioners simply want to get us moving and sacrifice intelligence for the push of pure entertainment. James Raftery’s “Everything” certainly wants to entertain us, but it reaches beyond that noble goal for something greater – enlivening our imaginations and engaging our emotions.