Today, singer/songwriter Billy Raffoul has shared his powerful new song “What Makes a Man” and its accompanying video. Available now at all digital retailers ,“What Makes a Man” is the first single from Raffoul’s upcoming album International Hotel, due out via Interscope Records on August 28. Fans who pre-order the album will receive an instant download of “What Makes a Man.”
Sparsely arranged but full of raw feeling, “What Makes a Man” is a profoundly moving protest song that speaks out against systemic racism in policing. As Raffoul explains, “What Makes a Man” was the final song written and recorded for International Hotel.
“I knew I wanted another song, and with so many important things going on in the world I was finding it hard to write another love song,” says Raffoul. “I thought about how since the quarantine started in March I had been driving my car around with expired plates for three months. I couldn’t get down to Nashville to get new tags, yet still I didn’t think twice about it. I can’t help but feel like that is a confidence that only privilege can give you.”
Like all the songs on International Hotel, “What Makes a Man” was recorded with two microphones in Raffoul’s girlfriend’s room in his hometown of Leamington, Ontario. The simplicity of that approach is perfectly suited to the rugged intimacy of Raffoul’s songwriting, and to the Americana-leaning sensibilities he brought to the making of International Hotel. To that end, “What Makes a Man” marks the first time Raffoul ever recorded a song with harmonica (a move partly inspired by Neil Young, one of his musical heroes). The song’s homespun austerity also extends to its video, shot in warm black-and-white and quietly centered on Raffoul’s impassioned performance.
Raffoul announced the forthcoming release of International Hotel during the first show of his International Hotel IG Live Tour, treating fans to a surprise performance of “What Makes a Man.” Launched on August 5th, the International Hotel IG Live Tour continues through the end of August, with shows taking place every Wednesday at 3 p.m. EST on Raffoul’s IG account.