Before we get into the album review, let me go into the story of how I came across Billy Raffoul. My wife and I went to see Needtobreathe in concert on August 21st, 2018 (CLICK HERE FOR REVIEW). Billy was the opening act of a triple bill. When we arrived he came storming on stage before we got to our seat. We didn’t mean to arrive then, traffic just sucked.
When I go to a show, I enjoy watching the opening acts and giving them the respect they deserve. Hey, you never know if they will be the next big thing. Watching Billy, I felt that he could be just that. While I was listening to him, I turned to my wife and told her that I loved his voice. It has this Jeff Buckley raspiness that was incredible. Imagine my surprise when I read his bio online, it actually mentions that same Buckley feel. Glad I wasn’t imagining things.
I can’t tell you the songs he sang as I had never heard of him before, but I do know he played Jimi Hendrix’s Fire. Hell, he is a lefty like Jimi and has that same upside down lefty guitar. I am sure he knows he could actually buy a left handed guitar!!
After his set, I got up and went to the restroom and on the way back to my seat, he was out taking photos with fans. He was standing next to the Merch table and I saw he was selling copies of his first E.P. 1975 on vinyl. I asked him if we would sign it if I bought it and he graciously agreed. We chatted for a second and I did my fanboy thing and told him how great I thought his voice was blah, blah, blah.
As you can see, he did sign it. I thought this was a better souvenir of the show than actually getting a Needtobreathe T-Shirt although that would have been nice. I felt this was cooler to add to my vinyl collection. Everyone was taking selfies with him, so I figured why not. So, without further adieu, here is the worst selfie EVER!!!!!
Well, needless to say, I took the album home and put it on and I have to say I was completely blown away by this album. It is mostly acoustic and only 6 songs, but those songs are so freakin’ awesome that this might end up in my Top Album list for the end of the year. I have pretty much listened to it non-stop since I got it. The difference between his stage show and the album is the album as I said is mostly acoustic, but the stage show was more rock as he played an electric guitar the whole time. But both had the same impact on me.
The 10″ Vinyl was a beautiful white one and just screamed “Play Me”. So, I have.
Billy has writing credits for all the songs and he plays guitar and piano on it as well. The first track, “Acoustic” was co-written by Justin Tranter and someone you might have heard named Julia Michaels. Julia has written for numerous people and actually has a Grammy nomination for her song “Issues”.
“Acoustic” is a stripped down acoustic song that seems to be about stripping things down both figuratively and literally in life and relationships. Baring it all and letting people see the real you. The combination of his grittiness and Julia’s vocals in the background make for a really cool, modern love song.
“Could You Be Mine” is a song Billy started writing back in 2010 in Leamington, Ontario where he is originally from so you Canadian readers out there need to be celebrating this new found treasure. The song seems to be about two people afraid to jump headfirst in to a relationship. The voice is the highlight as usual.
The second song written with Julia Michaels is one of my favorites on the album called “I’m Not A Saint”. It is rocker and a little rebellious. I think people will relate to this song as I know I did because I say “fuck” too much as well (read the lyrics and you will get that one). When he gets to the chorus you can’t help but sing along and sing loud! Julia does the backing vocals and adds her little touch to the song.
Starting off Side B is “Until the Hurting is Gone” which is such a heartfelt song. The simplicity of the song is beautiful. A guitar and his vocals is all that is needed, but there is some percussion and piano added in for good measure. You can feel the pain he has knowing he can’t help the girl who is hurting, but he is there for her no matter what.
“Forever” starts with a simple riff and Billy’s raspy voice. It picks up tempo and is one of the catchiest songs on the album. It is probably the most radio friendly song of the bunch.
The final track is “1975”. This might be the best song in terms of writing and music which is probably why it is the title track. Opens with the acoustic guitar and Billy’s vocals are almost tender and so much emotion. As you get to the final minute of the song his vocals get more intense and just amazing. Great song. The only comment I have on the title is that he was not born in 1975 as he is only around 24 years old so who is he singing about?? It doesn’t matter as it is so good.
Short and sweet. Six songs and each only about 3 minutes in length. When it is this good, that is all you need. I find his vocals to be perfect rock vocals with that Jeff Buckley raspiness and the songwriting is top notch. This is easily a 5 out 5 stars and a 100% on the Track List as there is nothing to skip or delete. I have since added his other singles to my playlist that were out before this E.P. which includes some great songs as well. Go check out Billy Raffoul. I think you will like it. Let me know what you think.