Luke Ritchie

Luke Ritchie

BandFolkAdult Contemporary

'The Water's Edge is an album that veers from stark ballads via rollicking folk rock to sunny, string-soaked pop. Although The Water's Edge was made entirely on acoustic instruments, it's sound is more in the folk-rock vein of Richard Thompson and John Martyn.'
Sunday Times Culture

Biography

Luke Ritchie
May 2012

In 2010, Luke Ritchie set himself a challenge – to write a song a week for six months. Between January and July, he composed 26 songs, recorded them at home on acoustic guitar and posted them online as podcasts. By the time the experiment was over, through word of mouth (or maybe mouse) alone, the songs had been downloaded 8500 times and Ritchie was ready to pick the best for an album he planned to put out himself.

Yet the route to the release of The Water’s Edge, Ritchie’s glorious debut, due out in July, isn’t quite so straightforward. Before they reached the studio, the songs had found fans in globally acclaimed arranger Nico Muhly (Bjork, Anthony & The Johnsons, Grizzly Bear) and award-winning producer Paul Savage (Franz Ferdinand, Arab Strap, Mogwai). The former composed and recorded string parts for five of the tracks. The latter produced the entire album over two snowy weeks in Scotland.

The results led to a deal signed late last year with Angel Falls Records, a label founded by Venezuelan entrepreneur Rodrigo Márquez and distributed by Proper Music, home to artists including Robyn Hitchcock, Dr John and Richard Thompson, whom Ritchie recalls on a couple of his folkier songs. Yet The Water’s Edge is neither a regular folk record nor typical singer/songwriter fare. It’s a rich, varied set of songs that are as feisty as they are folky, as rocky as they are pop. Recorded with Ritchie’s core backing musicians, on double bass and drums, and Jazz Vocalist of the Year nominee Nia Lynn on harmonies, the album may have been made on acoustic instruments, but even its most reflective moments are packed with passion and purpose.

“I didn’t want to make a soft, samey album,” says Ritchie, who spent four years fronting a rock band called Sevenball, which he joined while studying English Literature at university in York. “I’m not a soft singer. I grew up on Led Zeppelin, Soundgarden and grunge, as well as people like Paul Simon and Sam Cooke. I like dynamic singers and powerful songs – and you can get a lot of power from acoustic instruments.”

When Ritchie was still planning to release the album himself, he sent demos to Savage, not really expecting a reply. But the producer listened, loved them and invited Ritchie to record at his studio near Glasgow.

“I contacted Paul because of the music he’s made with King Creosote and Arab Strap,” explains Ritchie. “He’s a drummer and he’s brilliant at getting big drum sounds without veering in to power rock. On the song Shanty, which has a bit of a military beat, we used two sets of drums. Elsewhere, we messed around with feedback on acoustic guitars. On Lighthouse, it starts to make the sound of air raid sirens.

“Paul was so enthusiastic and had such a clear idea of how he wanted the music to sound that I totally trusted him, which was a big leap for me. Paul chose the songs he thought were the strongest. I had sent him 20 demos – some from the podcasts, some more personal ones I had written afterwards. A lot of them changed in the recording process and harmonies and embellishments were added on the hoof. Cover It Up became faster and funkier. Lonely Second probably changed the most. Paul really ramped that song up with drums and bass. Then, of course, there were the strings.”

www.lukeritchie.co.uk

Discography

The Water's Edge - debut digital/physical album
Cover It Up - digital single
Butterfly - digital single

Set List

Shanty
Cover It Up
Song To Sundays
Butterfly
Lonely Second
Right Then And There
The Lighthouse