James Raftery – Everything
“Everything”, the title song from James Raftery’s first album under his own name, marks a significant turning point in the career of a performer who has worked for the last decade and a half as Rat Wakes Red. His presence in the New York City music scene commands great respect and much of that good will surely informs the reception this release will receive, but Raftery clearly has a breadth of vision capable of taking on many forms and manifesting equal appeal in those areas. Many might think synthesizer dominated music isn’t capable of connecting emotionally with a widespread audience, but the way Raftery uses those instruments immediately discredits such assumptions. Everything shows tremendous ability for physically and mentally engaging listeners and has an overall presentation assured to draw in Raftery’s longtime fans and newcomers alike. “Everything” is an appropriate title – there’s a little bit of everything in this song to draw people in.
It keeps things relatively simple. The direct orchestration of the song’s synthesizers, drum machines, loops, and electronica ambiance is expertly handled and maintains the same energy level from the beginning. The construction of this tune is equally spartan and conventional. The chorus turns up the power a little more, but it doesn’t sound overwrought or excessively strain the song’s mood. Raftery has pared everything down to the bone here and there simply isn’t a single excessive musical note. Instead, everything serves its intended purpose and the song pops and fires with the same assertiveness at the beginning and end. Some might thing it runs on a little too long and relies too much on revisiting the chorus, but the physicality of the arrangement will give any listener a workout. Everything is kept in exquisite balance and it gives the song an overall unity distinguishing it from many other songs in this style.
The lyrics in both the verses and choruses are good in their own right but are clearly cut to serve the song above all else. Much like the music, Raftery doesn’t use too many words and drives to the heart of his subject matter with words fall on all the right beats. His talent for elongating select words, varying the speed and tone of his delivery at choice points, and picking up the energy just enough during the chorus makes the vocal here a genuine star turn. His voice has a surprising amount of life lain over the top of the electronic backing track and both elements share a warm sound nicely complementing each other. This title number from James Raftery’s new album sweeps listeners away with great energy and never wastes the listener’s time. It’s a single you can get into immediately and repeated airings only strengthen its appeal. “Everything” has everything it needs to please Raftery’s longtime fans and earn some new ones in the process.