There are few composers working in the style of electronic music who exhibit the same commitment to evolving creativity that James Raftery boasts. The title song from his upcoming full length release Everything represents the next step in a music career primarily defined by his fifteen year tenure as artistic mainspring for the music project Rat Wakes Red and finds Raftery refining technique and style that has fueled his previous endeavors in a wholly electronic vein. The only acoustic instrument employed on this song and release is Raftery’s voice. Anyone who places a high premium on electronic music will find a wealth of value in this release – Everything gives lie to the idea that electronic music cannot resonate with listeners in the same way as conventional instruments. There’s every bit of the passion and engagement we expect from traditional musical structures and, furthermore, any aficionado of electronic music will find much to admire in this performance.
The insistent beat sets a tone from the outset. It doesn’t run too fast, but the rhythm definitely crackles with steady energy. The synthesizer lines flashing across the percussive foundation are artfully deployed and Raftery’s lightly colorful touch seems geared much more towards invoking emotion and mood rather than potentially overwhelming listeners with an electronica sonic assault. The song runs a little under than four and a half minutes and never feels like it goes on too long but, instead, gathers momentum despite following a rather straight A-Z path. The choruses are quite strong and, naturally, represent the musical highpoint of the performance. These highpoints, however, never strain for effect and seem like an organic moment rather than something overly plotted out. This fresh quality pervades the entire song and the refrains mark the finest refinement of the song’s structure. There’s immense style driving the sound and final result of this track, but its substance is undeniable.
His vocal has a careful touch, but often aches with a variety of emotions. He capable summons up these emotional notes with a bare-bones vocal approach and the contrast between his very human voice and the electronic musical arrangement. His phrasing is the highlight of the vocal performance – Raftery’s confidence as he glides through the verses is palpable and he comes down with syllable stresses in all the right places. Some might assume singing to such a track might be easy going for a professional singer. This is not the case. His real achievement is finding just the right way for his voice to fit into the unconventional sound of this track.
Despite its electronic sound, however, the song structure is readily recognizable. There’s no experimenting with where certain points in the song come, ala opening with the chorus. James Raftery comes at listeners with the full gamut of his considerable talents fixed on a few key points and gets over “Everything” with a singleness of purpose that pays off for artist and audience alike. The title track of his soon-to-be released album sets the bar high and listeners can feel confident the remainder of the studio effort will match its quality.