Some years ago I was introduced to the huge talent of Rhys Lewis by my son who is a songwriter. He was blown away by the lyricism of this artist and the beautiful range of his vocals. This was then set in stone when I saw him play at Barn on the Farm, one of my favourite festivals and definitely the festival that prides itself on being way ahead of the curve; if anything this is the artist’s festival, I’ve lost count of the artists that I’ve first seen at BOTF that have gone on to be huge.
Rhys’s songs in the past have been songs of heartbreak that cut to the soul of what it’s like to be in a modern relationship. Songs like ‘No Right to Love You’ is a stunning song that will haunt you from first listen and yet speak for so many of us; it managed over 200 million streams. Lyrically Rhys is poetic, melodically he has the ability to create something that lives long in the memory. He epitomises the wonderful ability the finest songwriters have of creating something that is accessible and resonant irrespective of your age, gender or nationality. His first album is a work of art and has set the bar for new music very high. To date, he has a phenomenal 620 million streams to date.
So it was with a mixture of excitement and trepidation that I listened to the new single ‘Alone’; my expectations of this artist are unfairly high. I really needn’t have been concerned. The song is quite simply brilliant. It’s an anthem about the power of solitude and is hugely positive in its feel. Solitude can be daunting and even terrifying when you’ve been emotionally dependent upon other people for any length of time, but what it does is that it allows you to do the hard work of going inward to process your pain and fears, to sit with yourself and grow stronger in your sense of self, to ground and centre yourself in your purpose. Studies have shown that people who learn to find comfort in solitude tend to be happier, experience lower levels of stress and are less likely to become depressed. This song is the anthem for accepting that its ok to feel like you need to be alone, it’s a song where Rhys confronts and accepts this need in himself:
“Some days I wake up full of all this fear, wishing that I was anywhere but here”
The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have changed us all; we have all been forced to isolate ourselves from the people and the things we love, and that’s been tough. Rhys made the decision to take himself away from the hustle and bustle and maybe even claustrophobic feel of life in London and take himself to a little plot of land in the countryside. The enforced break from normality allowed him to re-examine his life goals and his musicality. This wasn’t a shift to something he perceived as better but he needed to address something deep in his soul; the need to heal himself first:
“Do you ever feel like running away, leaving your life behind and starting again, do you ever feel like running away?”
This isn’t just a brilliantly written and perfectly produced piece of music, this is a new mantra. It’s an anthem for him, for anyone that feels like their life might be ebbing away and not in the direction they wanted it. The break from the norm has allowed us all to ask, if I’m going to fail, then I’m going to do it on my own terms. This song is our anthem; this artist is our crusader.
The title ‘Alone’ could be construed as a sad thing; a word so often aligned with unhappiness but there is nothing wrong with taking time out to take care of ourselves. The perfectly crafted guitar and lush pop production make this song feel optimistic and that, for me, what will make this song successful. I simply haven’t stopped listening to it. Mesmeric guitar and Rhys’s always perfect vocals are joined by production that make the song feel euphoric. It’s a joyous glimpse into the rediscovery that Rhys has found and I feel privileged that he has allowed us all to join him on this journey by releasing such a personal song. The artist asks the question:
“Are you scared you started living too late? That you should have been making better mistakes?”
Strangely, another artist I chatted with recently, the hugely talented Megan O’Neill from Ireland, will release an optimistic and uplifting new single ‘Fail Better’ today and the message is similar. I feel like there has been a real silver lining to the time away that artists have spent and ‘Alone’ by Rhys Lewis is the perfect example. I am so excited now to hear album 2 and continue to believe whole heartedly that this artist deserves to be one of our most successful singer songwriters. With new music and new production that will make his music hugely popular here and abroad, I’m confident that this will be a huge Summer for him and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he might just turn up at Barn on the Farm Festival after his European tour supporting American singer songwriter Eric Nam from April to late June.
I really can’t recommend this single more highly. It’s a brilliant song from one of our brightest stars; please take the time to listen to it but be warned. You’ll be hooked!