Rat Wakes Red is the musical vision of James Raftery. The latest incarnation of this vision is a new CD titled “Acres”. The album is a collection of 18 songs featuring James on vocals, guitars, piano, synths, organ, and tin whistle. To further round out the sound James is joined by a supporting cast on bassoon, clarinet, French horn and drums. In addition, on the opening track “Always”, he is joined on vocals by the incomparable Hannah Fury.

Musically “Acres” 18 tracks bring to mind a slow float down a peaceful river surrounded by lush vegetation with textured sounds and sights overhead. It really is a very beautiful piece of work. However, underneath the surface there seems to be something else hiding. Although I have read the lyrics I can’t quite seem to put my finger on it. There is a sense of loss, a sense of betrayal. Some of them may be childhood memories coming to the surface in veiled misty clouds clearing momentarily to show once hidden scars and resentment.

My absolute favorite track on the album is “Always”. The harmonies James creates are lovely and then when Hannah Fury’s vocals come in I just melt. Hannah’s vocals are so beautiful and add an angelic sound to the piece. To me it seems as if Hannah’s vocal part offers a way to escape from whatever has haunted him in the past. This song alone is worth the price of the CD. I keep hearing it over and over in my head and in this case that is a most wonderful occurrence.

Another stand out track is “Come Over”.  James beautifully layers his vocals with a strong lead voice and background harmonies (all his it seems). Voice and piano with  cryptic lyrics that seem to speak of release and finding your own direction in life. Your truth.

“Forestry” is very interesting musically with an almost medieval feel to the music and a sing-song style to the vocals. Lyrics that speak of honor and courage so maybe I am on the right path here. With layers hidden behind the trees “Forestry” is well worth several listens.

All in all this is a great album. This is the first I have heard Rat Wakes Red and even though it was the word of Hannah Fury’s participation that brought me along for the ride, I can truly say that I enjoyed the whole journey.

You can find more about Rat Wakes Red and “Acres” as well as his other releases here….. Rat Wakes Red

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