The Nottingham singer-songwriter has just released his second studio album after six years. How does it compare to his acclaimed 2015 debut?
Saint Raymond has finally released his second album. It's been released a whole six years after his 2015 debut Young Blood. You may recognise this album name as its title track became a recognisable single, partly because it encapsulated being young and carefree. I saw him support Ed Sheeran live with a friend in 2014.
At this point, I hadn’t heard of Saint Raymond (real name Callum Burrows) and hadn’t researched his music before the gig. I was impressed with his handful of instantly catchy songs. It was good, indie fun, but with some thoughtful lyrics. It was a taste of what was to come later on Young Blood.
I loved that album, it soundtracked a mini period of my life at Uni. The melodies were earworms and the lyrics very relatable, especially on tracks like ‘Fall at Your Feet’ and ‘As We Are Now’. He later went on to release a couple of EPs and a few singles that fans gladly welcomed into their ears. Despite them being well-received there was still a natural hankering for something more long-form.
The main reason behind the long wait for the album seemed to be the fact he was busy on the road touring the debut so intensely; Callum understandably wanted a breather before developing something as time-consuming as an LP. Then finally, on April 16th, he released his overdue follow-up We Forgot We Were Dreaming.
When listening to it for the first time, straight away you can tell this is a well thought out piece of work. The opening title track doesn’t desperately fight for your attention, it has a non-rushed intro and exists at an assured tempo. It doesn’t explode like the opener of an EP probably would.
‘Right Way Round’ was a lead single and it was the obvious choice to be one. The opening verse welcomes us into his frame of mind that appears to include mental struggles: “Fading hearts and changing weather. Some for worse and some for better. Stay alive by boxing clever. Just don't let the fear take hold.” The synths are nice and it’s a reliable one to lure the listener in at number two.
Upbeat and fun, ‘Love This Way’ and ‘Talk’ really bring the album to life. The former has a pleasing chorus as he sings on each beat with conviction and even has a breezy electric guitar outro. The lyrics on ‘Talk’ show a real self-awareness about something he is saying in a break-up: “If you love me, let me go. I’m such a cliché – yeah, I know.” This one also boasts a really good guitar riff that will surely bring you back time and time again.
‘Alright’ moves us into an earnest statement about struggling with mental health, comforting the listener with the chorus: “It’s alright, it’s alright… to not be alright.’
While the previous few tracks feel like cheeky winks, this one feels like a warm embrace. I rate the use of guitars on ‘Wide Eyes Blind’. The pre-chorus is also a little reminiscent of The Police... It continues the theme of self-reflection as he delves deeper into his thoughts and feelings.
‘Solid Gold’ takes us away from those levels of introspection and into a boppy sound. It’s a good’ un that oozes confidence. I don’t mind ‘Soft Landing’ although it does seem to halt the momentum slightly with its moody, atmospheric feel. That said, the “hey now” in the chorus seemed like a nod to Crowded House’s ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’, which can’t be a bad thing.
‘Gone by Morning’ is a super jingly pop song that hits the mark. The chorus, as Peep Show character Super Hans would say, is very moreish: “Never learn our lesson. Call it the Devil's blessing. Yeah, you say you're yearning for me. But I know you'll be gone by morning.”
‘Killer’ begins with a dirty bassline, which was an unexpected treat. It builds into an OK track but I would have preferred it to stay on that bass-heavy opening. ‘Only You’ is a simpler, cute love song and is well-positioned as the penultimate.
Closer ‘Amsterdam’ starts with a folky riff and vocals which I really enjoy. The lyrics are an insight into his relationship and seemingly see him try to let go of his romantic partner emotionally. You can tell it’s a cathartic end to this era for him as he therapeutically delivers his departing words: “I don’t think I’ll find someone like you, someone like you.” He repeats the final part of this with a renewed energy that perhaps symbolises his realisation that he needs to start the next chapter of his life.
Overall, I do like this album. There’s a progression that I had hoped for, considering the substantial time between this and his first album. Although none of the songs stray too much into unexpected territory, its fuller sound and subtle changes of tempo did display somewhat of a coming of age.
His main selling point from my perspective, as a similar age to him, is the relatability of what he sings about – relationships, friendships and the modern struggles of being a younger person in this era. He ensured he didn’t lose this strength by having these things as his foundation again this time around.
Ultimately, he is an artist who especially thrives in the live scene with choruses that sonically invite fans to jump around and enjoy themselves. An upcoming band that have this same effect, and who remind me a little of his vibe, is Leeds band Marsicans. I’d recommend checking them out if you enjoy Saint Raymond’s stuff.
Anyway, my point with this being that seeing him performing these songs live would certainly elevate them further as this would be their spiritual home.
He has actually announced a UK tour at the end of the year and if that does go ahead then I’m sure this will prove to be the case. This tour will also undoubtedly increase his fan base. I’m glad Saint Raymond is back and, as expected, he did not disappoint.