Sketches is not just an album; created by musician Ray Mann, it is an ‘innovative, music-art piece’. Beginning in late 2011, Sketches was a project that incorporated the communities experience with each song released. On the third day of each month, a new song from The Ray Mann Three was released on Vimeo. Sometimes, the video and song were incomplete, and it was the community's task to help complete the video by creating a video response. The final video then contained elements from outstanding video responses from the audience. In essence, each video was completed by both the artist and the admirers.

Such innovation sets artists apart in today’s increasingly changing music landscape. Gone are the days of the ‘single, single, album, tour’ method. Artists are constantly trying to come up with new and different ways for the audience to engage with the music. Look no further than Phoenix, who recently released songs for the audience to remix in a competition. Such understanding of modern music release displays an artist’s understanding

Sketches is the band’s second album after their well-lauded self-titled album from 2008, which showcased off the trio’s real potential. Despite, the success of the debut, things went quiet for the band, with personal issues and even having a band member leaving for a different three piece (John Butler and Co). However, Ray turned the situation around and has made a triumphant comeback. The new album is a lot of the same offered with the debut, but with added emotiveness and silky-smooth soul.

Their innovation has not just stopped at the method of release but also the music itself. What the band has created is a new brand of soul that takes many of the old soul foundations and puts them through a process of modernising and hipsterfying – and it sounds great. The music is ultra-smooth soul, with a funky and bluesy mood, just the kind of music that can be put on to transport the listener to a land of uber-coolness. This is a record for all Soul fans to invest, with smooth hitting drum lines and guitar riffs to get you shaking your hips in tune. 'Babylon' is a hard hitting, swagger inducing single towards the front of the album, which sets the tone and mood for the rest of the album to come, 'Who's loving you' follows shortly after, furthering the experience whilst increasing tempo and with some sweet backing vocals, this will certainly get you singing along. Finally, 'Bleeding' towards the end of the album will certainly seduce you into replaying the album again and again. The perfect album to play when entertaining house guests and getting them moving in turn.

Soul is experience something of a comeback with many artists adopting grooves and bounce that add a soulful mature touch to an album. While going down a soul path can be rewarding, often it can sound like a band is doing a Marvin Gaye colour-by-numbers and released generic tunes that sound like tiresome attempts at revivalism. This just adds an additional challenge for the musician – to create something completely unique and trendsetting. The Ray Man Three have done just that.
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