Life by Misadventure truly is an immersive experience with a hopeful outlook on life and love. Rag ‘N’ Bone Man’s latest studio album was initially set to be released this year on the 23rd April but was pushed back to the 7th May. With the incredible success of Human in 2017, the following album couldn’t have come soon enough.
Four years can be a long time to wait, especially for avid fans but all-in-all, Life by Misadventure was well worth the wait. At the end of the Apple Music Edition, there is a short film titled Behind Rag’n’Bone Man’s Life by Misadventure. On it, Rory Graham explains that there were many pressures to release another record. It sounds as though it would have been very easy to release something similar to Human but doing so wasn’t particularly interesting to Rory.
A few of the features of a good book are compelling characters and a world that you can get lost in. Rag’n’Bone Man’s whole album will get you lost in a very trusting and very gentle world filled with wonder. Furthermore, being the main character of his story, Rory is someone that you can immediately relate to.
He made it one of his goals in this album to not only open up about his vulnerability but quite literally wear his heart on his sleeve. That’s not to say that this is simply a happy album. Splinters of sadness have been delicately placed throughout the whole piece, beginning with the title. Elements such as the last two minutes of ‘Old Habits and the morning bustle of Nashville nature at the start of ‘Fireflies’ let us know that these are more than fifteen songs pieced together. There is a story to be told and it flows with the help of the unexpected details.
Rory, along with musical director Ben Jackson-Cook, went over to Nashville, Tennessee, to write and record his second studio album. In Behind Rag’n’Bone Man’s Life by Misadventure of the Apple Music Edition, Rory further explains that he decided to record it while playing live. This was to make audiences feel as though they are present with him as they listen. “At Allen Shamblin’s ranch, I saw fireflies at night, and I was like, ‘God, if my son could see this, he would think this is actual magic.’”
The magic that he imagines his son witnessing is now witnessed by the millions who listened to the opening track of the album. With the year that we’ve just had, especially for artists, I think a bit of magic is very much needed. The opening lines of the track: “There’s a world you don’t see…” truly reiterates the struggle that Rory speaks about in the Apple Music film. It’s a struggle that many can relate to and so, although it was written for his son, it can have a beautiful impact on a lot of people who have experienced their world going darker.
Overall, this body of work reflects optimism in a world that has been shrouded in the opposite. Even the tracks ‘Fall In Love’ and ‘Talking With Myself’ that seem rather melancholic at first, are in fact merely portraying the negative thoughts that can take grip of someone’s mind. After hearing Rory explain the process he went through to create the album, it’s clear that an important aspect of it is about having honest conversations with yourself. It begs to argue that the underlying message of this record is one that is positive.
There is something to be found in the misadventures of life, something beautiful. One of the artworks for the album that Rory posted on his Twitter page is a picture of a chair in the middle of a white room. All over the walls and all over the floor are, what you could describe as notes or perhaps even scribbles. These truly reiterate the “ramblings of a mad man” that Rory was referring to in the Apple Music video. “And I thought, ‘why not try let people into that?’” Rag’n’Bone Man’s fans are certainly glad he did as his second studio album peaked at number one in the UK charts for at least two weeks.
By Sam Dawson
Image courtesy of Rag’n’Bone Man/Twitter