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!
New from Tom Speight is this truly beautiful song. Featuring the equally beautiful voice of Jessica Staveley-Taylor from The Staves, Willow Tree is the lead track from an EP of the same name which is due for release on 10 March.
Now we know from experience of seeing Speight live – supporting Turin Brakes on tour last year – just what a class performer he is. If you’ve not had the good fortune of seeing him yet, then get yourself down to one of his forthcoming dates next month when he plays a trio of shows in London (5 April), Manchester (6) and Bristol (7).
Tom Speight – Willow Tree
This song from Australian singer-songwriter Woodes gets well and truly inside your head.
As well as great vocals from this talented Melbourne-based artist (real name Elle Graham), the key to it lies to a large extent in the song’s simplicity – Bonfire has a pared-back beauty that shows wonderful production restraint and stands up very well to repeat listening over and over. Love it.
Woodes – Bonfire
It has been an exciting year for brother and sister duo Ardyn. As well as stacks of live shows (see our review of their Bristol gig as well as our interview) both on their own, at festivals, and supporting Wild Beasts, Katy and Rob Pearson also released EP The Valley, which contained four cracking songs that demonstrate the diverse range of the pair’s talent.
For us, Over The River is the real highlight. From its slow, steady and almost other-worldly build-up to its accomplished and beautifully arranged conclusion, it is one we still keep on coming back to many months after first hearing it. Performed live it is equally mesmerising – we recommend you make it a 2017 priority to see the Gloucestershire-based band for yourself if you get the chance.
In the meantime, we’re proud to have this wonderful song at the top of our list of very favourite tracks of the year.
Ardyn – Over The River
Get It Loud In Libraries have been running for nine years now and can boast the likes of Florence + the Machine, Adele and The Vaccines in its history books – pun intended – so it seems apt that Lucy Rose embarks on her own library tour as it’s the perfect setting for her folk-rock sound.
The audience at Liverpool Central Library was treated to 90 minutes of stunning acoustic playing from Lucy and band member Alex, warmed up by Annie Eve. It’s refreshing to see a female singer-songwriter support another which Lucy later points out herself. She says she purposely wanted other women on the tour because it doesn’t make sense that it should always be women supporting men or vice versa.
It is clear that Lucy has a great connection with her fans, from stories about how she stayed at South American fans’ houses on her tour, to giving a job on her European tour to a fan who said she wanted to become a tour manager one day, and her interaction with the crowd in Liverpool which is so effortless with no airs and graces or scripts. She also takes requests throughout the night playing the likes of Night Bus, Shiver and Be Alright, despite a bit of a groan and regret at opening up requests, as she wants to play some of her more uplifting songs but she doesn’t disappoint as she kicks off with My Life and continues to play some of her best from album’s Like I Used To – this audience are keen to hear the bonus tracks in this rare live opportunity – and Work It Out.
She says she won’t talk between every song but that’s part of her charm on a live stage, between stories about how she’s the worst child out of her siblings because she sang at one of her sister’s wedding and not the others, as well as forgetting to record a ‘happy birthday’ message to her mum’s friend Jackie who she’s met once in her life. But then the crowd join in the recording as Lucy quips after that she’s now gone from the worst to the best child thanks to the audience participation.
The singer-songwriter has two studio albums under her belt and a recent live release Live at Urchin Studios which she is showcasing on this library tour but she says she has had doubts about recording another album with new material. However, fortunately she teases Liverpool with some new tracks including the wonderful Fernando which was inspired by her tour in South America.
It is fitting then that she wants to end on positive song Like An Arrow, a track which showcases the singer’s voice as she hits the stunning high notes despite asking the crowd to sing-a-long during the chorus because she doesn’t think she sings it very well. It is a lovely moment as the singer connects with fans in what was already a solid set.
Perhaps the doubts of LP number three come from the music industry today and the pressures to secure a multi-million selling number one album, but there is definitely a place for Lucy Rose in the music world and I’m sure the crowds at all the library shows will agree.
Review & Photo by Jonny Yates (@)
Lucy Rose – Like An Arrow
Given their regular appearances on Sync and our Soundcloud playlists, we were somewhat excited to get the chance to catch brother and sister duo Ardyn live for the first time when their UK tour saw them stop off in Bristol.
They certainly didn’t let us down – it was a great set full of promise from a band which so far has just a couple of EPs to its name but for whom the potential is huge. Their sound is folk at heart, but with a real twist. Strong songwriting and Katy Pearson’s hauntingly beautiful vocals combine to great effect and as a live proposition they are accomplished multi-instrumentalists.
We’re rattled on lots about Jerry Williams, 20-year-old singer-songwriter from Portsmouth, so it was great to finally see her live when her four-leg tour rocked up in Bristol last night.
Sooooo relieved to report that are no studio-based magic tricks going on here – her voice really is as good as it sounds on record. She gave a flawless performance throughout what was a wholly enjoyable gig.
A regular on these pages has been Wolverhampton-based singer-songwriter Penny Bridges, whose distinctive voice adds an enthralling quality to her well-written and neatly-produced material.
New track Tomorrow has all of the attributes of her previous work that has appeared on Sync (see Discover…). It is stand-out folk/pop with strong hooks and a lightness of touch that lets the song seep into your consciousness.
Penny Bridges – Tomorrow