Manchester singer-songwriter Tom Walker‘s star has ascended extremely fast during 2017. The 25-year-old has rapidly built-up a strong reputation not only for his engaging, heartfelt songwriting, but his live performances have also wowed, with a voice that has a ‘sit-up-and-pay-attention’ affect that is reminiscent of the first time hearing Rag’n’Bone Man live for the first time.
Highlights of this London show included Karma, and latest single Leave a Light On, with the whole audience singing along to both songs and really ramping up the atmosphere. The stripped back Fly Away With Me slowed the pace down a little, uniting the audience in a flow of escapism. This was all perhaps topped by Heartland which, along with Blessings, is arguably among Walker’s signature tunes.
His live performance was a great combination of meaningful lyrics with raw and raspy vocals that accentuate his ability to capture the audience. There are even interesting influences of hip hop which make his sound quite unique.
He told the crowd that he had previously performed in every room in this London establishment, from the tiny back room, to the slightly larger space upstairs, and now the main stage itself. It tells the story of Walker’s growing profile, and suggests the stages he’ll be performing on in 2018 will be larger still.
He’ll be back on the road during March and April 2018 with a tour across the UK and Europe – tickets here.
Review & Photos: Rebecca Cribb
What’s this? Is Sync shrugging off its customary refusal to acknowledge the onset of Christmas until around the 24 December to embrace the festivities this early?! Well maybe, but don’t tell anyone. It’s just that we’re rather liking this piece of loveliness from Skinny Lister.
Christmas Calls will doubtless be on the setlist for the remaining shows on their current tour – in Cardiff (6 December), Southampton (7), Exeter (8), Bristol (9), and London (10) – tickets here. If they don’t play it then, well, pelting them with snowballs may be in order.
Skinny Lister – Christmas Calls
London-based singer-songwriter Tom Speight has been steadily making a name for himself through a string of support slots with bands including Starsailor, Travis and Turin Brakes. His pure and poetic songs have beguiled audiences across the country but as he prepares to head out on his own headline tour later this week, Sync caught up with him for a brief chat…
SYNC: So you’re covering some crazy miles later this month with the tour. How are you looking forward to getting back out on the road for these headline dates?
Tom Speight: I only just got off tour from supporting Turin Brakes and Starsailor ilast month, so it was nice to be back home writing for a week or so before these dates start. I love touring and playing my songs live. I don’t I will ever get tired from that. Continue reading
The route between punk-rock and acoustic folk is not necessarily the most well-trodden of musical paths, so it is always intriguing to come across an artist whose work transcends genres. Essex singer-songwriter Dominic Benjamin has fronted punk-rock projects Abusing Mary Jane, Forever After and Brave Vultures, touring the UK and Europe over the past couple of years.
Now, he is striking out on his own with a sound of an altogether different flavour and we’re excited to premiere his superb new song In The Morning, released on 4/11. We also caught up with him to find out more about the origins of his versatile music talent, and ambitious plans for a whole load of new songs over the coming months… Continue reading
The latest tune from Irish singer-songwriter Ailbhe Reddy is another beautiful and beguiling song built on a flawless vocal, subtle hook, and clever, relatable lyrics.
The Tube is a strong folk/pop effort from Reddy, who explains: “The song is about having no explanation good enough for someone, so the only thing I had left to offer was the small gesture of walking them to the nearest tube station. It’s a song about struggling to express yourself properly to someone, which I think is probably pretty universal.”
Her autumn tour of the UK and Ireland comes to a close this week at The Canteen, Bristol (1 November) and London’s St Pancras Old Church (2). Details here.
Ailbhe Reddy – The Tube
Meadowlark returned to Southampton to play an intimate gig at The Talking Heads as part of their UK tour marking the release of debut album Postcards. The band – comprising Kate McGill and Dan Broadley – have been doing their thing for a few years now, steadily building a committed following along the way.
The audience were captivated by the duo throughout the night, listening intently and clearly enjoying themselves. In addition to the band’s enchanting performance, their clever lighting set-up made for a very atmospheric show, with the lights flashing in sync with the beat of the music. Continue reading
For the second night of an extensive schedule of UK, European and worldwide dates over the next couple of months, Nick Mulvey brought his show to Exeter, showcasing songs from his second album Wake Up Now.
As he promised when we chatted with him recently, the full band he worked with on recording the album transfers brilliantly to the live stage. For this show at Exeter Uni’s Student Union venue, the small, atmospheric space was packed out with a crowd drawn from across an incredibly wide age range, underlining the broad appeal of Mulvey’s unique sound.
Often categorised as folk, such a label doesn’t really tell the full story of this artist. Mulvey’s time spent living in Cuba a few years ago significantly impacted his creative leanings, with a somewhat exotic lilt to his phenomenal guitar craft. Right across his repertoire, there are hints of folk, sure, but there is also a real air of world music, along with touches of radio-friendly pop thrown in for good measure.
Among the set highlights were Unconditional, Myela and Imogen from the new album, while old favourite Fever To The Form, from his 2014 debut album First Mind, got the kind of enthusiastic reaction you would expect for what is one of his signature tunes. But he sent everyone home bouncing with Mountain To Move, the upbeat track that features the lyric from which the album Wake Up Now takes its name.
What Mulvey is particularly good at is conveying an on-stage demeanour that is as soothing, approachable and reassuring as his faultless vocal tone. That is one aspect of a winning combination – along with his meaningful songs of substance and highly accomplished musicianship – that sets him apart as one of the most creative contemporary talents around.
As part of their current tour, Amber Run took to the Old Fire Station for their first ever gig in Bournemouth. The band arrived on stage to a packed-out venue, full of committed fans who sang along to every song on the setlist.
The energetic and catchy Pilot opened the set, which got people pumped for the rest of the night. Following this was Spark, a clearly well-loved track from their debut album, with everyone screaming the lyrics. Fickle Game highlighted the musical bond between the band, as they performed together in what seemed their own little world. Continue reading
Nick Mulvey hits the road again next month. He spoke to Sync about latest album Wake Up Now, the pursuit of free expression, and how his new band has enabled him to open up a whole new set of possibilities…
To say it has been a hectic year and a half for singer-songwriter Nick Mulvey would be something of an understatement. As if relocating from London to the countryside and becoming a father for the first time wasn’t enough, this month has seen the release of his second studio album – and a packed schedule of global tour dates in support of that album are about to kick off on 1 October.
But the 32-year-old has been energised by a wholly positive reaction to his latest set of songs. “It’s been really, really lovely,” he said. “On a personal level, I’ve lived with this album for a long time in terms of the writing of it. The build-up to releasing an album is a long one too, in this case all the way through May, June, July and then into August, and so the pressure ramps up a bit. It’s funny, I almost forgot during some of the more intense moments that the whole goal is to release an album.
“For me, it’s been a really lovely and necessary release in more ways than one. These songs are naturally a bit more provocative and maybe even a bit more divisive in terms of the subject matter, so there has been an interesting complexion to the response from people since it’s been out. But people have been letting me know they love it.” Continue reading
Folk-pop harmonies abound in this enchanting song from The Cedar Sisters. Not actually sisters, the Canadian duo are Jane Carmichael and Elle Hermansen and the pair met when both were brought in as backup singers for a local rock band. The two songwriters felt an instant personal and musical connection, and soon after began writing together, creating songs that they describe as ‘electro-folk pop’.
Wait is their first single and they are currently writing and recording more new songs with the goal of releasing a debut EP later this year.
The Cedar Sisters – Wait
Singer-songwriter Bella McKendree will be releasing her debut EP, Waiting, later this month. Out on 18 August, the four-track EP features the forthcoming lead single, Grieve, seeing Bella and her band combine a darting piano melody with the singer’s tender, emotional lyrics.
Says McKendree: “In this song, I’ve laid out my heart, truly transparent about my own experience of loss. The reality is that sometimes you have to confront that dark place so I didn’t sugar coat the truth. It is the most vulnerable record I’ve written.”
Having grown up in the countryside, McKendree moved to London last year to start a band, perfecting her own material at various Sofar Sounds gigs across the country, as well as support slots for the likes of Ryan Keen, Martin Luke Brown and Keaton Henson. She also started working with Grammy Award-winning producer Brett Shaw (Florence & The Machine, Daughter) on the upcoming EP and is currently touring the UK. Among other dates, catch her at The Half Moon, Putney (7 August), and the Sunrise Celebration Festival, Hereford (19/20 August).
Bella McKendree – Grieve
British singer/songwriter Tom Forest returns with the second release from his upcoming debut album Hope. Believer has all the soulful, uplifting brilliance of previous song Summer.
It has a simple melody, with a sincere vocal delicately delivered and totally compelling. Of the song, Forest says: “Last year I was in a dark place with music. It felt like life was telling me it was time to stop, even though it was something that had always been second nature. To make an album took a huge amount of support from friends and family – many people contributed to that process and I’m so grateful.
“Sometimes the value of dreams is not in whether you achieve or fail, but in the belief in that it brings out in those around you. If you find yourself fighting a battle, even if you lose, you see who comes to join you.”
Tom Forest – Believer
Rising Irish artist Ailbhe Reddy has unveiled Fingertips as the lead single from her new EP, Attach To Memory, which is out this week (24/5). “This EP is an evolution of my first, Hollowed Out Sea,” says Reddy. “Most of these new songs are more up-tempo which shows the fuller sound of my live shows.”
Influenced by the likes of Liane La Havas, Fiona Apple and Hundred Waters, Reddy impresses with an EP built on solid song writing, intricate melodies, and addictive radio friendly hooks – best illustrated on the lead single, Fingertips – albeit with the ‘clean version’ for radio purposes no doubt!
She has been making waves in her native Ireland, ever since a homemade demo of her song Cover Me was used in a Today FM radio advert in 2014. Later that year her first single, Flesh & Blood earned rave reviews and was featured as Song of the Day on Folk Radio UK. She went on to feature on a host of Irish festival line-ups last year.
Reddy has a headline London show this week at The Slaughtered Lamb on 24/5. Tickets here.
Ailbhe Reddy – Fingertips
It’s almost a year to the day that we first featured Canadian singer songwriter LeRiche with the wonderful Bury Me, a song we loved ever since the first listen, so it’s great to get this new one from him.
This is LeRiche’s first new song since signing with Fierce Panda in the UK and Indica Records in Australia and there are understandably high hopes for it. He has that knack of creating great songs, and Under Covers is another that deserves to be heard far and wide.
LeRiche – Under Covers
Hailing from Newton Abbot, Devon, Alice Jemima has been developing her songwriting and musical style over a number of years now. Her self-titled debut album was released at the start of this month and has been enthusiastically greeted, not least since she has created something of a unique sound, combining impossibly soft, smooth and delicate vocals with creative pared-back beats and hook-filled tunes. The heart of the album’s appeal though is ultimately really simple – great songwriting.
As always, we were keen to see how the live performance compared to the slick recordings so headed along to catch her London headline show at The Lexington earlier this month. Her shy, super-modest between-song demeanour belies her impressive ability to deliver the songs with a beguiling, mesmerising sense of something special.
Jemima seemed genuinely thrilled to have virtually filled the venue’s sizable if intimate-feeling space. It was a Monday night too which somehow always seems to make an impressive turnout even more satisfying for an artist. We caught up with her after the show to find out a bit more about an artist whose star is very much on the rise…
SYNC: So tell us a bit of the background to the Alice Jemima story and how your musical passion first developed?
ALICE JEMIMA: When I was younger my mum played violin in a tango band, so from a very young age I went to a lot of festivals and gigs with her.
I’d tried playing a few instruments myself before picking up the guitar when I was 8. Nothing else had really taken my interest, but as soon as I learnt the guitar, that was it – I haven’t really stopped playing since! Then a few years later I started writing and singing.
SYNC: Having discovered your musical path at a young age, how has your musical style – and own music tastes – evolved? Which other artists have played a part in that?
AJ: When I started songwriting I was listening to a lot of singer songwriters like KT Tunstall, Jack Johnson, Nerina Pallot, Corinne Bailey Rae. Then as I got older I started listening to a lot more electronic/indie-pop music like The XX, Flume, Lana Del Rey. Maybe it hasn’t changed all that much, possibly more the production side has.
Alice Jemima – Electric
SYNC: How did the cover of No Diggity come about? It seems such an unlikely-yet-inspired song to do in that style.
AJ: It was after hearing Chet Faker’s stripped-back version of it, which I instantly loved. Although I hadn’t planned to record a cover of it, I was just playing around with some chords and beats on Logic and then started singing No Diggity over the top of it. It wasn’t supposed to be that, but it worked, and now it’s officially out in the world!
Alice Jemima – No Diggity
SYNC: How would you describe your own songwriting process? What are the elements that enable your songs to convey such emotion and feeling?
AJ: It depends really, sometimes I’ll just pick up an acoustic guitar and write something straight away, and other times it’s a slightly slower process where I’ll produce a more beat-driven track and write over the top. I suppose the more ’emotional’ songs I tend to write on the guitar, possibly because I’m singing whatever’s on my mind or what I’m feeling, right there and then.
Alice Jemima – Liquorice (live)
SYNC: How long has the album been in development – and how does it feel for you now that it’s out there for the world to hear?
AJ: I guess you could say this first album has been in development since the day I started writing! Some of the tracks on this album are ones I wrote when I was a bit younger. I spent a few years trying to find the sound I wanted, so the ones I wrote when I was younger have definitely come on a bit of a journey – and evolved.
It almost feels like a weight has lifted now it’s out there! That may be a funny thing to say, but some of these songs I’ve wanted to put out into the world since the day I wrote them, so it’s a great feeling now they’re all there for people to hear. And now I can start writing another!
SYNC: What are the plans for the rest of 2017 – are there more live dates and perhaps festivals in the diary?
AJ: I’ve just been out to the US to play SXSW, which was so exciting, and I played three shows out there. On 5 April I’ll be playing a headline show in Paris at Pop-Up du Label. I have more festivals and shows coming up – but they’ve yet to be announced. So, more news soon!