George Riley: Running in Waves Album Review

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Rarely does an aspiring artist use their platform to primarily state what they are not on. London singer-songwriter George Riley does this throughout his new record Run in the waves: She doesn’t mingle with fickle or fake people, doesn’t want to sacrifice opportunities for love, and doesn’t claim to have all the answers. In 2021, Riley received a pop star’s introduction to the world with a standout feature film about Manchester producer Anz’s cosmopolitan club hit “You Could Be”, followed shortly thereafter by his own. interest rate, a band. The self-released mixtape featured a free-wheeling mish-mash of R&B, jungle, 2-step, and jazz while finding room to explore important ideas — Eurocentric beauty standards, whitewashing activism climate – which Riley, a graduate in politics and philosophy, managed to address without appearing trivial.

Executive produced by Vegyn, responsible for the PLZ Make It Ruins label, Run in the waves is more carefully refined. This time, rather than thinking about societal issues, Riley focuses on the inside. The palette shifted accordingly, favoring soaring basslines, soft synthesizer layers and solemn strings, all calibrated to bring Riley’s soft yet powerfully emotive vocals to the fore.

On “Time,” she leaves a laid-back jungle break soundtrack to a one-night stand fantasy — “I like good guys and good food/Happy weed and Camper shoes” — but her hedonism hides a disclaimer: “I’m very protective of my space / I don’t let anyone in unless I’m convinced they’re good and humble. The restrained drum lineup and sleek synths of ‘Running in Waves’ frame a simple affirmation of self: “There’s no one else here / I believe it’s me and me and me and me here.” On “Sacrifice,” she resists having to give up anything for love; the premise is similar to Weeknd’s song of the same name, but Riley’s version is more emotionally sharp, backed by buzzing microwave synths and withered strings that morph into a singular, aching harmony.

The more intimate tracks sound like they were recorded in Riley’s bedroom. On “Desire,” over a clean electro groove and sparkling electric piano, she ventures: “I should stay here for now/I shouldn’t run away to be alone.” She works on her feelings for an ex on “Delusion,” delivering a confident kiss over a muted breakbeat and bright chords. Riley’s vocals often have the intensity of a recorded late-night session while trying hard not to wake up the neighbors, but his lyrics are decidedly self-absorbed – in a good way. “I’m not denying my desires this time,” she sings on “Jealousy,” a supple R&B jam; “I want to see the world, or what’s left of it.”

This franchise is a big part of the charm of Run in the waves. Despite the softness of her voice and the undercurrent of self-doubt, Riley is determined to carve out a place for herself, no matter if she sings during jungle breaks or the sweetest soul. As she sings on “Acceptance,” “I trusted my intuition/Haven’t failed me yet/It’s what wins me/So I’ll keep on moving.”

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George Riley: Running in the Waves

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