Rag’n’Bone Man – Human

As soon as hype began to surface around Rory Graham, a.k.a. Rag’n’Bone Man, I thought “Here we go again, another flash in the proverbial pan”. Some would say his No. 2 hit ‘Human’ was part of 2016’s definitive soundtrack. This may be, but to base hype on a couple of singles sends my scepticism into overdrive. His lungs have impressive capacity and he reaches the vocal sweet spot of almost effortlessly, but an obsession with a niche voice can quickly fade. What I will say is the production present on his debut does him many favours.

Starting strong with ‘Human’, ‘Innocent Man’ and ‘Skin’ proves to be effective but backs up my initial concerns. With such big hitters opening proceedings it leaves me wondering if my attention will be held for long. His voice is undeniably powerful but as it’s his key selling point, it risks losing effectiveness through lack of musical variation. While the likes of ‘Be The Man’ and ‘Ego’ display great musicianship with an ensemble of piano, backing vocals and jazzy brass tones, they make the plethora of mediocre tracks stand out (particularly on the deluxe edition).

He can lend his voice to a few different genres and subsequent rhythms, but once you find your favourite the rest of his material can be quickly discarded and forgotten.

The album drifts in and out of different genres. Graham briefly flexes his hip-hop vocal muscles on ‘Ego’ and also goes solo on the blues-come-gospel vibe of ‘Die Easy’. Overall, he lies somewhere between urban blues and soul. ‘Fade To Nothing’ is a good example of this and would definitely get hands clapping in the live arena. But as for the rest of the deluxe version’s extra 7 songs they feel like surplus to requirements.

This is the ultimate problem with Rag’n’Bone man. He can apply his voice to a few different genres and subsequent rhythms, but once you find your favourite the rest of his material is quickly discarded and forgotten. But I won’t put the blame on him, he’s only human after all.

 

By Will Hunt


Noteworthy Details

Crosses a few genres
An incredible vocal talent
Impact wanes as the album plays on

Rating

7/10



Track List (Deluxe Edition)
1. Human
2. Innocent Man
3. Skin
4. Bitter End
5. Be the Man
6. Love You Any Less
7. Odetta
8. Grace
9. Ego
10. Arrow
11. As You Are
12. Die Easy
13. The Fire
14. Fade to Nothing
15. Life In Her Yet
16. Your Way or the Rope
17. Lay My Body Down
18. Wolves
19. Healed