The gravely basso of Rag’n’Bone Man is attuned to deadpan ballads. And not very much else. Brevity is just not something that can be factored into his portentous tone: it’s like a fire & brimstone Alabama preacher sermonizing The Princess Bride.
His attempt at a party jam on ‘Giant’ feels as stumbling and clumsy as the proverbial.
If you don’t know the story behind this one, Rory (Rag) Graham sent the song off to Calvin Harris in 2014. Harris sat on the single, or more likely lost it behind his mixing desk, since no one in 2014 knew who Rag’n’Bone Man was.
I can see why he kept putting this off in favour of mundane household tasks or, literally anything else. But the results are entirely underwhelming.
Graham’s voice squeaks and cracks as it desperately attempts to break type, which is only worsened by a diastrous-cum-hilarious bridge section which comes achingly close to using “fee-fi-fo-fum” as an actual lyric but chickens out, plus a chorus entirely unrelated to the verses and general tone of the song. This may be one of the most tonally confused pop songs of the past few years, conjuring up nothing more than a grainy image of emulsion drying on a skirting board.
Calvin Harris really did put his all into this though and there are lots of nice touches: the parps of Stax organ, the introduction of strings through the second verse, and as per usual a tasty bass guitar propping it all up. Harris seems to be on a crusade to bring strung bass back into the dance pop lexicon and I’m here for it.
What’s more the inclusion of wheezing sax in place of an EDM drop is a decision I can admire. However there is simply no way of forcing what does not and can not come naturally: Rag’n’Bone Man chafes against this song all night long. His cumbersome booming voice is pinched, contorted, truncated as Calvin Harris frustratedly tries to shove it into his preferred mould like a Big Weekender trying to re-pack their tent.
Listen to ‘Promises’, ‘Feels’ and ‘Slide’ but don’t listen to this. Rory and Calvin just don’t play well together.