The Water’s Edge the debut album from Londoner and singer songwriter Luke Ritchie is simply a startling ‘geographical’ trip through emotions, sound and the heart. One says simply but the music within the album is of such tender care, composition, and emotive design that it is impossible not to be touched and moved by its acoustic beauty and stirring design.
Luke Ritchie’s musical journey as well as the two years that the album took to be realised has been an example of effort and dedication to ones faith with The Water’s Edge the result and proof of belief and determination. The Autumn of 2009 saw Ritchie approached by start-up label Angel Falls with the intention for him to record an EP. The EP Cover It Up was made with Ant Whiting (M.I.A, Paloma Faith, Zero 7) on mixing and production but the deal subsequently fell through with the label and the EP unreleased. Undeterred Ritchie carried on which began with him recording a song a week and the creation of his own podcasts. These podcasts went on for six months and gained around 8,500 downloads.
He then played in bands including The Golden Retrievers who supported Rumer on her Spring 2011 tour and with acclaimed folk singer Hannah Peel. The next step of this journey for Ritchie saw Leo Warner of Fifty-Nine Productions who had heard the podcasts, connecting him with classical composer Nico Muhly (Anthony and the Johnsons, Bjork). From this link up The Water’s Edge sees five Nico compositions for songs on the release adding even more grace to the existing sounds and melodies. The album was finished with Paul Savage (Arab Strab, Mogwai), winner of the Breakthrough Producer 2010 Award, at Chem 19 Studios in Glasgow and soon to be unveiled upon surely what will be amazed and eagerly devouring ears.
The album opens with the creative emotion of ‘The Lighthouse’. Lifting from a stirring and touching quiet and slow ballad start it gently hits deeper and more powerfully as it opens up, the additional stunning vocals of Nia Lynn (Jazz Vocalist of the Year nominee 2010, Gwilym Simcock) complimenting Ritchie impressively. She also enhances the next song ‘Shanty’, a foot tapping folk song that canters though the ear excitedly and wonderfully. Immediately it places itself as favourite track on the album though no one song is lacking the same impetus and effect however they deliver their emotive sounds.
Where Ritchie is different to many singer songwriters is that you feel the songs as well as hear them. He has the skill to place the listener within the small world or moment that themes each song, to go deeper and touch further than most other songs no matter their quality. Songs like the ballad ‘Off Your Guard’, the Paul Simon/John Martyn spiced ‘Cover It Up’ and the irresistible poppier ‘Butterfly’ again with Lynn backing, caress and please the ear thoroughly. Even if your musical taste is of a more urgent and meatier tone it is impossible not to be sucked within Ritchie’s musical charms to some degree.
The Water’s Edge is nicely varied within an overall uniform feel to the album with other songs like the Common Tongues sounding ‘Lonely Second’ and closing gem ‘Song To Sundays’ equally essential as those mentioned. Luke Ritchie may have taken time to reach this point but the quest and effort has proven more than worthwhile and with The Water’s Edge he has provided one of the year’s finest releases.