Let It Rain
Let It Rain is available via:
28th February, 2018
THE header of this review looks…
an awful lot like yesterday’s (when I looked at Hollie Haines). That is understandable, I guess – as there are a lot of people making similar music out there. I will skip London – as both artists are based there – but talk about a resolution to get away from the city. I will briefly mention Alt-Folk and acoustic sounds and, until I get to Archie Langley’s new song; I want to investigate new artists and those who have some extra; musicians who are working in a challenging genre; where music is headed and what we need to encourage going forward; building with every track that comes along; needing more exposure/information from artists – ending with a look at the desire to embrace bigger acts and performers. The twenty-one-ear-old Langley is based in London but comes from Hayling Island. It is understandable Langley would move from a smaller part of the country and come to London. The city beckons many out there and it offers all sorts of treats and pleasures. The place is teeming with life and activity but, if anything, the level of competition means there are a lot of people working alongside one another. I have a lot of love for London and think it is one of the most fertile places for music in the world. Langley can see his music explode there and get massive attention. I wonder, through time, whether another move will be on the cards. It is unavoidable I am back in London but, as time goes on, the need to go somewhere else grows. Many artists start in London but they relocate a little further down the line. I feel Manchester is a great fit for Langley. He will do great in London and learn a lot from the people – get some fantastic gigs and see his music promoted. I think northern areas like Manchester are untapped and not exploited as much as they should be. There is the assumption London holds all the answers and is the best place for any musician – there are some downsides.
With regards Langley’s music; starting off in London is a great move. If he spent say, two or three years in the capital; he could migrate further north and settle somewhere like Manchester or Leeds. Archie Langley is among an army of singer-songwriters who are working in Alternative-Folk. In fact; that might be a slight exaggeration: there are a lot of Folk artists but not that many that mix in Alternative sounds. The modern scene is quite urgent and commercial, still. That need for something flavourful and vibrant is dominating a lot of current tastes. I am a big fan of Pop music – the credible side of things – but hanker for something a little more soothing and relaxed. If an artist can mix in the energy and passion of Pop/Rock with the contemplative nature of Folk – that seems like a winning combination. I think London is a great place to get that sort of music promoted and built. It is tricky getting any sort of music out to the masses. The capital is a good area for likeminded artists and venues. Langley has options if he is looking for good gigs. He has a stylish and instant blend of sounds that will see him do good business. I know he has dates coming up – and has played many gigs before – but the east of the city seems like the best part for Langley to explore. Hoxton and Shoreditch are promoting a lot of Folk artists – there are, actually, a lot of great areas in the centre (like Soho) where Langley could explore. I have put out my concerns about remaining in London too long. A hectic city is perfect to get that experience but, once he has learnt a lot and seen his music grow; I would look further away and, at the same time, think about international gigs. His sounds are the sort that warrants wide acclaim and attention. The fact media attention is focused on London means everyone, naturally, heads there. Artists like Langley, once they have seduced London and move away; they can bring eyes further north and ensure artists up there are not overlooked.
I briefly mentioned Folk – it is a genre that seems reserved to the outskirts. It is hard to think of a time when Folk was popular and in the mainstream. Pop, Rock and other genres have always been at the forefront: other genres have tried to get into the centre but been pushed back. Classic Folk artists like Bob Dylan have been in the mainstream but not brought the entire genre with them. Critics and fans are reluctant to embrace and promote Folk heavily. Maybe we all have that perception (Folk) is a rather peace-loving and gentle type of music. It is okay for certain scenarios and days but, when you think about it closely, there is not enough to grip and entertain further down the line. I cannot honestly put hand on heart and say exactly when Archie Langley will hit success and how far he will go. The industry is so rammed and competitive that it is impossible to say, for sure, if anyone will make it. What I do know is the material he is producing now resists the worst traits of popular music and is really strong. I will talk about male artists but, before then, a look at modern Folk. There are a few artists who remain in the ‘traditional’ wheel of Folk – the acoustic-led sounds that have very particular lyrical themes. What Langley does, and many peers, is to fuse softer tones and aching vocals with something more explorative and emphatic. You get emotive music and honest confessions; exceptional vocals and accomplished playing. I wonder how long it will talk before Alternative-Folk gets better recognition. We have artists like Bon Iver and Laura Marling who create fantastic albums all the time. They get a brief rush of acclaim before people go looking elsewhere. It is a shame because, when you spend time with their music; what they are talking about is a lot deeper and more interesting than a lot of stuff out there.
Let It Rain is a song that speaks for itself but there is something else that catches my eye: the curious cover for the single. On it, we have Langley leaning against a lamppost with a cigarette in mouth. One can throw metaphors and similes at the pose and explore it in greater depth. The cigarette and nonchalant pose might suggest rebellion against the elements – the rain might signify the pressures of love and modern life. To me, it is a straightforward image that illustrates the sense of cool, beauty and evocativeness the song possesses. You look at the young Langley and he projects this cool look and appeal. I have argued against focusing on musicians because of their looks and physiques but there is something appealing about Langley. In terms of facial features; he has a bit of Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age’s ‘Ginger Elvis’) and other artists. Langley projects a sense of cheekiness and swagger – there is something in there. Focusing on the looks of a female artist would be wrong: drawing the eye to male artists who supplement that with great music is fine. The reason I wanted to bring up this subject is to show there are many sides to the artist. Many musicians are about the music and have nothing appealing about that. Music, in a sense, is as much about style and image as it is the actual songs themselves. Music is streamed and promoted online, and so, many newcomers need to be aware people want to see them get their faces out there. I will look at Langley’s photos and online spread later but, before then, more about artists and image. I feel there is a certain image of Folk that needs to be overridden. Many still have that assumption Folk artists are rather dull and samey. In the past, before the new breed came through; there was a little bit of that.
I have mentioned artists like Bon Iver and Laura Marling – throw in Ben Howard and Matt Corby. These performers not only have great music and original songwriting at their disposal – they have a look and projection that catches the eye. Whether that is their album designs or their gig sets. Every time I see a new release from these artists; I am caught and struck instantly. The vocals from each are alluring, rich and complex; the music takes Folk’s core and takes it in new directions. There are acoustic moments in each artist’s albums but, mostly, there are electronic elements and other instruments coming in. ‘Folk’ is a rather deceptive term and genre when you think about it. We assume it is all about acoustic guitars and nothing else. Archie Langley proves there is plenty of life and adventure in modern Folk. He creates electricity and burning passion; there are intriguing lyrics and vocals that take the heart by surprise. Perhaps there is not the same energy and pomp as Pop: there is more emotion and intelligence, I feel. It is challenging working in any genre but for a male songwriter coming into Folk; that lifestyle is fraught and difficult. This is not to place burdens at the feet of Archie Langley. He will succeed and prosper but, right now, there is a move to see female artists get more acclaim. Folk/Alternative Folk might take a while to get to the mainstream but, with artists like Archie Langley out there, it will come sooner than we’d hope. Langley himself didn’t start pursuing music until the age of twenty. He has achieved a lot in a short time. From open mic. performances and a spot at Victorious Fest; he caught the eye of BBC Introducing and has released a string of singles. Let It Rain is his latest endeavour and will appear on a forthcoming E.P. He has worked with producers like Sam McCarthy (The Kooks) and Benjamin (Royal Blood) and has learnt a lot from them.
The young man has leapt into music and capitalised on early promise. Let It Rain is him at his most confident and assured. More material will come – and the gigs will roll in – but it is pleasing to see Langley tackle a situation that is quite tricky. Male artists will see be proffered but, in my mind, female artists are producing finer work and should be lent more attention. This is true of Folk where female voices and acts are producing stronger work than their male peers. Parity will come about in the music industry: 2018 is a year where more attention needs to go the way of female artists. That might seem negative and hard for any male artist trying to get their names known. It will all come together for Archie Langley before too long. He is new to the game and mixing it with some great local talent. I feel he will get to the big leagues and play alongside some of the biggest names in Folk. I am not sure what route he wants to explore regards material and tours. I am sure most gigs will come when the E.P. is out but, in the future; Langley should dream big. He has a sound that could score bigger stages and, against dull and aimless artists like Ed Sheeran – here is a male solo artist who warrants headline stages and awards. It is what Langley puts onto the page and how he delivers his music that gets into the mind. He has been compared with other artists but he is his own man. There is nothing stopping him achieving a lot and making big waves – even though it might take some time. I am keen for female artists to get their say and have a bigger role in music. This does not mean male artists will struggle and be overlooked: a balance and fairer industry need to come in.
Langley builds with every track but, if anything, there are some things I would like to see from him. He has some great images out there but a few more would be good. Every artist will struggle for finance and time but it is easy getting snaps together and putting them online. I am sure more will arrive with the E.P. but, for someone who has a great look and projection; it would be nice to see Langley get some more photos together. A couple of great shoots could give him options and a decent set of photos. If he put those online then it would draw more interviewers in and catch the eye of journalists. I am very image-focused and refuse a lot of requests because artists do not have adequate images online. Even if you are a new artist; one cannot blame money and time for lacking that consideration. Professional photographer charge but they do not bleed you dry. Every musician needs to be aware of sacrifices and putting money aside for things like photographs. You can produce high-resolution shots on tablets and phones, and so, it is easy enough to put something together. Many artists have different images put online for various campaigns. This is something I do not like about modern music: having various shots for each single/release; not allowing journalists access to older photographs because they do not tie in with what they are doing now. It is annoying but a (sad) sign of the industry. Archie Langley has some fantastic photos out there at the moment – I would like to see some more appear come the summer. He will look to get festivals dates and must consider every angle and aspect when appealing to bookers and organisers.
In addition to images and getting the visuals together; there is that need for information and more biography. I feel Langley has an interesting past and it would be nice to see more information from him. Maybe bits about his tastes and artists that mean a lot to him; some details regarding his move into music and when music came into his life. Putting some lines together regarding ambitions and targets for the year; talking about what inspires his sounds and where he wants to head would be nice. There are some details out there but for people like me – who want to do detailed reviews – it would be good to have some other angles and ideas to work with. He is new to the game, so one can excuse a certain lack of heft and detail. As he gets bigger and more successful; I can see his pages becoming fuller and more authoritative. Langley is someone I feel could exploit all social media and music-streaming sites. Getting some great videos shots and ensuring all his singles are on SoundCloud, YouTube; Spotify and iTunes – making sure it is accessible to all and has great coverage. Many artists are looking towards crowd-funding sites when it comes to albums and getting money generated. Maybe that is something Langley will look at when he thinks about L.P.s. I know there is more material coming but, as we head into spring, the young artist should think big and getting more out on his social media channels. This may sound negative and harsh but I would not expend time and recommendations on artists I did not feel worthy. What strikes me about Archie Langley is he has all the ingredients to make a success of his career and achieve some great things. It is only a matter of time before he gets under the microscope of a big festival or gets his music played on a national station.
Before I look at the new song from Archie Langley; I will address bigger artists and why Archie Langley could join them. The bigger my blog gets; the more I am looking at larger artists and those in a better position. It is a natural reaction but it does not mean I will be abandoning newer musicians. Archie Langley will dream big and have ambitions to make it in the industry. I feel he can get a long way and do great things. He is working in a busy industry but there is something about him that stands out. The voice is strong and the personality shines through; the songs are deep and seem to connect with the listener. You hear a song from him and it stays in the mind: so many mainstream artists produce music that does not remain and only provides brief pleasure. I hope Langley continues to explore Alternative-Folk and does not feel the need to move into Pop or Rock. Maybe splicing those genres in would be good: stepping away from what he does and trying to gain some commercial respect would be a mistake. It is exciting seeing the songs come together and how Langley improves and strengthens with each one. The reception he gets from the press and fans gives him motivation and drive to keep going. I can see his confidence rise and the music get stronger and more alluring. The production values are fantastic and the nuance one gets from the songs is brilliant. That all bodes well for someone who has aims and goals for the year ahead. There will be more music and I am sure Langley will look at bigger venues and festivals – hoping he can get his music to larger crowds. Let It Rain is a cut that suggests that sort of achievement is not too far away. It is a fantastic song from a young artist who has few likeminded equals.
“Rain is my only friend” the songwriter intones in the opening moments. Let It Rain starts with the sound of rain and an evocative scene. It is sparse but dramatic: the weather turning hostile and listener imagining the scene unfolding. I looked at the hero who was walking through the rain and getting soaked for the hell of it. The fact he seems connected with the rain signals someone going through a tough time. The voice quivers and has an original bent. It is hard to compare Langley with anyone – which is a good thing – but there is an almost Jazz-like projection to the words. The words echo and resonate; they are carefully deployed and almost narrated. Langley talks of greens and red – red like blood pouring – and that image of the rain beating down persists and dominates. The song does not feel the need to throw instruments and needless elements into the mix. It is all about Archie Langley and his mind. The songwriter, accompanied by acoustic guitar, keeps things calm and ensures every word is provided detailed and passionate treatment. One hears little bits of Matt Corby as the song gets hotter and heavier. The vocal lingers and strengthens as the hero wants the rain to cover him and remain. There is that sense of being cleansed and made new; maybe being punished for something he has done. Perhaps the young man has lost love and screwing things up. He has taken to the streets and is pondering life. The rain is that reliable companion that makes him think and offers some form of perspective. The chorus sees the dynamic and pace change. The song gets hotter and faster and the energy levels rise – the listener is given warning and it does not come as a huge surprise. I feel like that rise and explosion was only a matter of time. The chorus is the storm brewing and the rain getting more intense. The cold keeps him in his shell and it is interesting digging into the words and what they mean.
The hero seems reserved to a certain circumstance and is using the rain as protection. Maybe he needs this wake-up and realisation to get his life back on track. The only reason he is alive and keeping going is the fact he is walking the streets and feeling the rain. I wonder whether it is all a metaphor for a talk or realisation inside. By that; I mean it could all be an emotional rain that has opened his eyes and forced him to change his ways. He does not reveal whether it is a relationship split or something else that has caused this turmoil. One of the minor criticisms regarding the production is the fact the percussion and drums drown the vocals out a bit at times. Maybe that is a deliberate effort but it would be nice to hear the vocal more in the chorus – and in the latter stages. Langley’s passion and energy keep the song interesting and deep until the end. No two lines are the same and you put images and scenes together in your mind. I was following Langley through the rain as he searched for answers and meaning. The composition never settles and moves through different stages. In a way, oddly, it reminds me of some of the numbers on Paul Simon’s Graceland. Groaning guitars and tribal drums transform into striking codas and inventive little detours. There is a lot of wordlessness towards the end which might signify a sense of comfort or settlement. Maybe the hero is short of answers and lacking new insight. I am not usually a fan of wordless vocals but, in the context of Let It Rain, it works and adds something to the mix. Langley brings the song down and gets the listener thinking about outcomes and conclusions. I wonder whether the hero made his way to safer ground and figures things out. Did it all work out okay? Those are questions only the author himself knows the answer to. It is a fantastic and engaging song from one of the most promising new songwriters in Folk.
I have spoken a lot about Archie Langley and various aspects to his game. Langley has played Ronnie Scott’s and been spun by the BBC. He has his new single on streaming sites and social media; he has been featured by websites and marked as one to watch – everything is heading in the right direction. I would be uncomfortable predicting too much when it comes to the songwriter. I know he will do some wonderful things and it is clear Langley will achieve success this year. When one races ahead and make bold predictions; that can often be a kiss of death for artists. Let It Rain shows what all the fuss is about: a stunning songwriter who has an original ear and the ambition to go a long way. That success will come and things will get bigger and better for Langley. The London-based songwriter is looking to spring and summer and what is coming next. When the E.P. rocks up; that will provide ammunition and ensure the young talent gets under the radar of festival organisers. I can see Langley playing some good festivals and great dates in London. He could aim bigger and take his music to the North. There are fans out there waiting and many other venues that would love to see the songwriter play. The fact he has only been making music a short time makes the achievements gained so far impressive. It all bodes well for Archie Langley and his fabulous music. If you are new to his sounds then remedy that and get behind his work. He is an artist with a lot more to say and territory to carve up. I am excited to see how far he can go and what he can accomplish. Let It Rain is a bold and memorable declaration from a young songwriter…
TURNING many heads.
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