You only have to consider his list of collaborations to get the measure of John Legend. The Ohio-born singer’s roll call of team-ups has seen him working with the likes of Kanye West, Jay-Z, Lauryn Hill, Britney Spears and Magnetic Man over the years – among many others.
His current Darkness and Light tour has seen him take his breathtaking showmanship around the world this year and he was in top form for this Cardiff stop-off. Of course, his well-known hits figured prominently in the set, including Used to Love U, Ordinary People and All of Me. A dazzling backdrop of graphics and illusions accompanied him throughout, sometimes using visuals to emphasise some of the more serious points he wanted to convey, including his support of the Black Lives Matter movement during Wake Up Everybody. Continue reading
Here’s a slice of pop funk to start off your week. London-based singer-songwriter Mo Brandis makes his presence known with this super-strong track, featuring an effortlessly charismatic vocal alongside shades of soul, R&B and pop.
Undercover was co-written by Bea Munro, producer Harry Shadow and Brandis himself. About the track, Brandis said: “Undercover is about a girl I was friends with for five pretty painful years before we finally started dating. She was in a long relationship, so I had to play it cool, but every time we saw each other I always kind of zoned out, trying hard to concentrate…”
This is no absolute beginner however. Brandis has already achieved top ten, platinum and gold releases as a songwriter in ten different countries, touring over 35 countries over the last few years as part of soul/ funk act Incognito. Now coming through with his debut solo material, there’s plenty to suggest he’s got plenty of hits of his own in store.
Mo Brandis – Undercover
The second song of her ‘comeback’ this summer, Jessie Ware has released new track Selfish Love, taken from her forthcoming third album Glasshouse.
It’s subtle and beautifully-produced, suggesting even bigger things on the way from her new material yet to come. The video packs a punch too, with Ware rather drastically getting the upper hand on her cheating other half!
Jessie Ware – Selfish Love
Almost criminally underrated vocalist and musician Andrew Roachford first grabbed wider attention when a 1989 re-issue of his song Cuddly Toy hit number 4 in the UK charts. That and follow-up Family Man were two of the huge gems from his spellbinding eponymous debut album which was released the previous year – and still sounds fantastic almost 30 years on.
We’ve picked out a live version of a slightly later tune for our Backtrack however. Only To Be With You hit the UK Top 30 and was the lead song on the Londoner’s 1994 album Permanent Shade of Blue. This live recording reveals the energy and emotion that comes through in Roachford’s raw yet smooth, soulful voice and gives a hint at what fans can expect on his forthcoming UK tour which includes October dates in Southport (13 October), Leicester (14), Birmingham (20), Sheffield (21), Southampton (27), and Seaton (28), before heading on to a host of other destinations throughout November including Newcastle, Glasgow, London and Manchester. See Facebook for full listings and ticket links to these shows to catch an artist who really should be on everyone’s must-see list.
Roachford – Only To Be With You (Live)
We’re fortunate to have a lot of new music come our way at Sync, plenty of it superb. But it’s rare that you get ‘that feeling’ when you hear a voice; the feeling that it simply has to hit the big time. That’s certainly what sprung to mind on first listen of Tom Walker‘s masterpiece Blessings.
The song is also the title track of a debut EP (released in May) that shows the versatility of his vocals, lending them with equal aplomb to stripped back ‘pure’ songs as well as more uptempo and highly produced tunes.
With a London headline show at Omeara and a slot at Glastonbury under his belt in recent weeks, the Scotland-born 25-year-old’s star is most certainly in the ascendancy, so we decided we simply had to find out more about Tom… Continue reading
With a beautiful, soulful and laid-back vibe, Intertwined is the latest track from Purple Ferdinand‘s 7-track EP Rain Or Shine which was released back in February.
With a suitably sleek new video directed by Didyer Zarate to accompany it, the track underlines the promise already being shown by this talented London singer songwriter.
Purple Ferdinand – Intertwined
We’ve been listening to Tom Walker‘s Blessings for a few weeks now, so wasted no time in checking out his follow-up Heartland. Recruiting the production might of Naughty Boy, the song is so strong and yet understated enough to feel raw and soulful in the best possible way.
The current slow-burn of Walker’s recent material reminds us of Rag ‘N Bone Man‘s Human, which we featured way before his profile exploded in a rather spectacular way. Walker’s unique and attention-grabbing gravel-edged tone deserves similar exposure and it will almost certainly be coming his way.
He plays a host of festival dates over the summer, including Barn On The Farm in Gloucester (1 July), Victorious in Portsmouth (27 August) and Bestival in Dorset (8 September).
Tom Walker – Heartland
And while we’re about it, it’s only right to include Blessings here too, since it’s an absolute beaut of a song and one that shows Walker’s rich and powerful voice to the fullest.
Tom Walker – Blessings
A warm, sultry Friday evening in London got even hotter in the basement environment of Birthdays in Dalston, East London. The biggest show so far by emerging soul-pop trio Rumours saw this compact venue packed out and enthralled by an hour-long set that included sublimely chilled out tunes alongside more uptempo material.
Comprising Mark Borgazzi (vocals/keyboards), Federico Bigonzetti (drums) and Marion Solheim (vocals), the band are earning a reputation for finely-crafted songs characterised by a real depth of feeling achieved through wonderful harmonies between the vocals of Borgazzi and Solheim. We’re always keen to discover whether the recorded version of this magical vocal skill can be replicated on the live stage, so it was great to hear them nail it wonderfully on the night.
The set built nicely, from a low-key but solid first half through to a much more upbeat second. So Bad, Invitations and I Do It All were particular highlights – along with new single Hunter – but there were no weak links here. It was an impressive performance for a band still in its relative early stages.
They promised an eager crowd that more new material was on the way soon. If they can create more along the lines of what’s gone before then a very bright future lies ahead… and that’s more than just a rumour.
See also: DISCOVER… Rumours
UK R&B singer/songwriter Lauren Faith has had an introduction to the industry that is anything but low-key. With debut track Got It Good featuring on both Kaytranada’s album 99.9% and Craig David’s latest album Following My Intuition, the 21-year-old has already cut her teeth in the most credible of ways.
Faith has been busy cooking up further material in the studio. Her first solo track, Let Them Talk starts by giving the initial impression that it is going to be a fairly straightforward R&B affair, but then breaks down into a far more jazzy, off-kilter and experimental tone, with an instrumental courtesy of emerging UK beatmaker Lostboy working to emphasise Faith’s silky delivery.
Catch Lauren Faith at her own headline show at London’s Waiting Room on 2 May – tickets here.
Lauren Faith – Let Them Talk
Brighter is the latest song from Nigeria-born British soul singer-songwriter Bee Bakare. With a smooth, powerful and soulful voice, Bakare has been steadily building a reputation for beautiful songs and, at the start of this year, was one of three winners at the Future Music songwriting awards for this track.
There’s a chance to catch this talented performer live at one of a couple of upcoming shows: Notting Hill Arts Club in London (26 April) for the launch of the Brighter EP on that day; and Moles in Bath (6 May). Tickets here.
Bee Bakare – Brighter
It’s always with a slight sense of trepidation that we go to see for the first time live an artist that we’ve been fans of for a while. Will they live up to expectations? Can they really cut it on a big-scale headline show? Well, we need not have worried about this one. South-Londoner Izzy Bizu gave a dazzling performance that reassured that the hype surrounding her has plenty of foundation.
Whilst hers is not yet a household name, plenty of her music will be familiar to many, not least from her vocals on the intro theme for the BBC’s Euro 2016 coverage – an uptempo take on Edith Piaf‘s La Foule – but this gig introduced those who had not yet had a chance to hear it to most of the tracks on her recently-released debut album A Moment of Madness.
Some key highlights included big singles Mad Behaviour and White Tiger, as well as an absolutely sublime pared-back performance of Someone Who Loves You, for which Bizu was joined on stage by electronic duo Honne.
Her live band left the stage for that one track, but for the rest of the show they were by her side and were as impressive as Bizu. Her music style takes in all manner of jazz and soulful fusions and the musicians and backing vocalists met the task with style and swagger.
What she lacked in assurance at the very beginning of the night – Bizu was clearly (and understandably) initially nervous in front of a sold-out crowd at what is one of London’s most visually stunning venues with its multi-level balconies towering high above the stage – she more than made up for as she settled into proceedings.
In the end, it was clear she was enjoying herself, although not nearly as much as her fans who lapped up everything she did. It was an exquisite vocal performance from a charming and unassuming young singer who has all the attributes to be doing her thing for many, many years to come.
Tired of Love is the first single from the upcoming album from Cardiff all-female five-piece Baby Queens. Slick and soulful, the track sounds fresh but with a nod to some of the retro best of RnB and pop.
The group had success with 2013 single Red Light. Since then, the girls have been releasing a number of tracks, readying their debut album and cutting their teeth on the live circuit, playing festivals such as The Great Escape, Boomtown, T in the Park, X Fest, and Swn Festival.
Tired of Love is out on 9 September, with the self-titled debut album slated for release on 28 October.
Baby Queens – Tired of Love
Rory Graham, AKA Rag’n’Bone Man returns with his long awaited new single Human, a track that shows off his extraordinarily powerful voice to the max.
In person, Graham is pretty much the exact definition of a gentle giant. His appearance suggests something scary – a big man, bearded and with tattoos, but instead of ‘Hate and Love’, he has the words ‘Soul and Funk’ inked across his knuckles.
He is currently in the midst of an extensive summer festival tour. Having appeared at a number of festivals over the summer – including The Great Escape and Glastonbury – the talented singer will be bringing his unique sound to a few more yet before festival season is over. Catch his sets at Beautiful Days in Devon as well as Reading and Leeds.
Rag’n’Bone Man – Human
Hailing from South Wales, Hannah Grace has the strength of voice that belies her 23 years. This fiery title track from her new EP Mustang, released earlier this month, shows this only too well and explains why established acts Gabrielle Aplin and Hozier invited the talented singer onto their recent tours as support.
Hannah Grace hits the road for her own UK tour soon with dates in Nottingham (26/9), Birmingham (27/9), Manchester (29/9), Bristol (30/9), Cardiff (1/10) and London (3/10).
We were lucky enough to catch her a few weeks ago when she supported Seal at Bristol’s Colston Hall and she captivated a large audience with her powerfully soulful voice. Expect to hear a lot more of her in the not-too-distant future.
Hannah Grace – Mustang
Brand new from London singer songwriter Effie is this very cool vibe of a track that’s a little reminiscent of some of the stuff by DJ and singer Yasmin (speaking of whom, a ‘Backtrack’ blog post on her will be coming up on Sync imminently!).
Pressure is the first song to be taken from the Effie’s forthcoming EP due out on 17 June.
Effie – Pressure