It’s been a while since Daley was longlisted for BBC Sound of 2011, and the British R&B/soul vocalist has yet to release his debut album, despite his fantastic Gorillaz collab “Doncamatic” and the Jessie-J-assisted moderate hit “Remember Me”. As frustrating and out-of-control these things are, he soldiers on with a brand new single entitled “Broken”. Probably his most commercial work to date, the soaring string-laden track follows that ’90s trip-hop/drum-and-bass throwback template that’s so on-trend right now, thanks to Naughty Boy, Emeli Sandé and Rudimental. He even travelled to the Seven Sisters cliff for the music video, so you know he means business.
He’s undoubtedly got an amazing voice, I wouldn’t mind more songs in this direction really.
Chances are not many are overly familiar with the name Amel Larrieux. The former Groove Theory member/neo-soul musician has always kept a relatively low-key profile as opposed to her then contemporaries like Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, or her successors like India Arie, Janelle Monae. However, she’ll forever be cool in my book on the strength of her underrated ’90s R&B gem “Get Up” along with its amazing Floria-Sigismondi-directed video.
Over the last decade, she still quietly released new music under her own label Blisslife Records, and “Afraid” is her first new single in 4 years. Not surprisingly, she hits all the sweet spots with this breezy, bright summer groove.
“Afraid” is a track that glides, gradually, gracefully building up to a cocoon of harmonies that descend like a flock of seagulls down by the seaside. It’s such a breath of fresh air to adult contemporary R&B/soul, and I’m glad to have her back on top form.
For some reasons, I used to mistake Mayer Hawthorne for a punk/emo band, and for that false impression, I steered clear of their music. Not until I found out Jessie Ware did some vocals on the new single “Her Favorite Song” did I finally have a listen and to my surprise, Mayer Hawthorne is actually a white American guy singing blue-eyed soul!
“Her Favorite Song” is a throwback to the heyday of adult contemporary soft rock à la Sting. Mayer Hawthorne proudly wore his influences on his sleeves, as he tapped into this uncool ’80s genre and shook it up with a bit of Prince. It’s an ultra-smooth, cosmopolitan jam, but it’s Jessie Ware’s (uncredited) sultry vocals during the chorus that add an extra touch of class and elevate this track beyond Bruno Mars/Robin Thicke MOR territory. And if the music alone is not enough to win you over, there is now a glossy music video featuring models and dogs that dress like humans. Dogs that dress like humans! Good move, not-an-emo-band Mayer Hawthorne.
Check out the Large Professor remix after the jump.
British rock duo Noisettes recorded a cover of James Brown’s “Living In America” a while ago to give away as a free download, which was sadly overlooked, as was their lovely new album “Contact”. It’s a fantastically funky effort, with an amazing pure-joy section that only starts at 2:25. And yes, there’s some serious cowbell action going on here too, which is always a good thing. I found Shinghai Shinowa to be a total star and one of the most fascinating frontwomen the UK has offered in recent years. I hope a tour on this side of the pond is in the planning.
Coincidentally, it’s Election Day in America! *pause for suspense* Have you done your part yet? Don’t just sit there now, GO OUT AND VOTE!
Alex Hepburn is a London-based up-and-coming artist signed to Warner, and seems to be getting a push in France. Her sound is more on the serious “real music” side, but it’s her torch-soul cover of Neneh Cherry‘s 1996 Portishead-esque single “Woman” that caught my attention. Alex’s got a raw, raspy, smoky voice that suits bare-bone soul/blues. She has a tendency to sound a bit affected on her own tracks, but for the cover, she’s got the balance just right. She’s definitely one to watch out for in 2013.
STREAM: Alex Hepburn – Woman (Neneh Cherry Cover)
And here’s an original – “Pain Is”, co-written by the notorious Linda Perry…
STREAM: Alex Hepburn – Pain Is
It’s strange to remember that Joss Stone is still quite big in America. Despite being largely ignored in her homeland, her last 3 albums have all gone top ten here. 9 years after “The Soul Sessions” – the album that started it all, she just released Vol. 2, comprising a new collection of cover songs. The lead single is a stoned-soul rendition of Broken Bells’ “The High Road”, which is pretty much the 2012 equivalent of her White Stripes cover “Fell In Love With A Boy” back then. I actually find it quite agreeable, if a bit oversung. She’s obviously a very gifted vocalist, but I wish she would stop smoking pot for a second to give Eg White a call and go back to her “You Had Me” ways. Anyway, it’s quite nice to see her in a proper music video again. Watch the psychedelic video for “The High Road” below.
I was first alerted to Ren Harvieu when she was longlisted on the BBC Sound of 2012. Forewarning: she makes music for Radio 2. BUT it’s damn good Lite FM gold. The Mancunian chanteuse possesses an enchanting jazz/soul voice with a drawl that lulls you in effortlessly. Her debut single “Through The Night” is an exquisite, languid, elegant tune, conjuring up an expensive, widescreen kind of sadness. I suddenly found the song creeping its way back into my head on a misty Thursday morning, and it’s been lingering there since. In a nutshell, if you secretly like Rumer but think she’s too mumsy, or have a fondness for Norah Jones circa 2002, then Ren Harvieu is for you. Lovely stuff.
STREAM: Ren Harvieu – Through The Night
“Through The Night” is OUT NOW in the UK.
Emeli Sandé‘s debut single “Heaven” gets a moody rework from pop-noir duo Alpines. It’s suitably nocturnal, with a dubstep flavor. I really like it better than some of the official remixes, actually.
Emeli Sandé’s forthcoming album “Our Version Of Events” was one of my most anticipated for 2012, until PopJustice’s review got me worried. Her next single, “Next To Me”, does not wow me the way “Heaven” & “Daddy” did. Regardless, I look forward to a thorough listen soon.
My favorite rising UK act, Jamie Woon, went back to basics for his Live Lounge visit. With only a guitar, he performed his latest single “Lady Luck” and a cover of Adele‘s mega-hit “Someone Like You”. And what an incredible, soulful voice he has! It’s a fantastic cover, even if it kinda veered dangerously close to Jason Mraz territory. Woon’s debut, Mirrorwriting, drops April 18 in UK. No US release plans yet, but I seriously hope he will tour here this summer. If he learnt from his SXSW gigs and practiced more, his live show could be amazing. Stream/download the cover below. Grab an acoustic version & a cool remix of “Lady Luck” after the jump.
As a big fan of dubstep producer Burial, I believe that his 2007 remix of British soul-crooner Jamie Woon’s “Wayfaring Stranger” was definitely among his best works. After 3 years, the two finally went ahead and collaborated on a full-on, more pop-oriented but still dubstep-influenced sound. And the result is nothing short of amazing. Jamie Woon’s brand new Burial-produced single “Night Air” is one of the freshest, most brilliant electronic singles I’ve heard this year. It’s the essential mood music for this weather. Burial’s crispy beats and atmospheric production perfectly complement Woon’s soulful vocals. His way of delicately enunciating every word really accented the introspective, wistful mood of the song, while getting too mushy. That final beat switch is just… wow.
The video for the track finally premiered today, and it’s exactly how I envision it should be. It makes me want to walk through the woods while pensively look into the distance. Together, Woon and Burial can really get where Massive Attack used to be. I’d love a whole album of this, please.
Watch the gorgeous video, stream the excellent Ramadanman remix, or get the old “Wayfaring Stranger” remix after the jump.