Category: Soul Music

New Video: Up-and-Coming British Singer-Songwriter Stealth Releases Behind-the-Scenes Video featuring The Dap Kings

Stealth is an up-and-coming Birmingham, UK-based singer/songwriter. Citing influences such as Howlin’ Wolf and Etta James, the up-and-coming British singer/songwriter specializes in an old school bluesy and soulful take on pop and soul.  His single “Judgement Day,” was a viral hit that has amassed over 10 million streams on Spotify and YouTube combined, landed on the charts in 12 different countries and appeared on an episode of USA Network’s Suits — and as a result, his EP The Intro, which featured the song landed at #2 on the iTunes UK singer/songwriter charts and #3 on the iTunes US charts. His sophomore EP, Verse, featured “Real Life,” a track that was featured on ABC’s The Catch and E’s The Royals — and the track was also featured in a Kia Stinger ad campaign throughout Europe. Adding to a growing profile, the Birmingham-based singer/songwriter has opened for the likes of Seinabo Say, Jamie Woon, Zella Day, Tiggs Da Author, Vaults, Kaleo and others. He also received frequent airplay across BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 6 and BBC Introducing — and was nominated for 3 Unsigned Music Awards before he signed to Ultra Music.

Since signing to Ultra Music as their first blues/soul/pop act, Stealth has continued to build upon a rapidly growing profile. His third EP, Chorus features “Gotta Stop Loving You,” a track with an accompanying Ryan Saradjola-directed video that has amassed over 1.5 million views on YouTube since its release; “Truth Is,” which was included on the official FIFA ’19 soundtrack alongside tracks from Barns Courtney, Billie Eilish, Broods, Childish Gambino, Death Cab For Cutie, Gorillaz, Logic and more.

Stealth’s latest single, the Stevie Wonder meets Fela Kuti and The Africa 70-like “Black Heart” finds the up-and-coming British singer/songwriter collaborating with the world famous funk and soul band The Dap Kings. Centered around a strutting bass line, a sultry horn line that only a few backing bands can provide, a twinkling organ line and Stealth’s soulful vocals, the track is full of bitter recriminations and accusations towards a deceitful lover — and by the end the song is a proud tell off to the same lover.

“‘Black Heart’ is all about noticing the little things a person does before they break up with you. They are saying one thing but their black heart says another,” Stealth says in press notes. “Had the pleasure recording this with the Dap Kings over in NYC and it was a dream come true. Obviously heard them on Back to Black and I’ve been a huge fan of Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones who they also recorded and played with. To have the opportunity to meet and record with these living legends was unbelievable.”

The recently released video features behind-the-scenes footage of the Birmingham-based singer/songwriter beginning with Stealth heading to Daptone Records’ House of Soul Studios in Bushwick, Brooklyn — and jamming and recording with the world famous Dap Kings. Now, as some of you know, I’ve actually been to House of Soul Studios and you can practically feel the spirts of Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones in and around the property. 

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Stealth is an up-and-coming Birmingham, UK-based singer/songwriter. Citing influences such as Howlin’ Wolf and Etta James, the up-and-coming British singer/songwriter specializes in an old school bluesy take on pop and soul.  His single “Judgement Day,” was a viral hit that has amassed over 10 million streams on Spotify and YouTube combined, landed on the charts in 12 different countries and appeared on an episode of USA Network’s Suits — and as a result, his EP The Intro, which featured the song landed at #2 on the iTunes UK singer/songwriter charts and #3 on the iTunes US charts. His sophomore EP, Verse, featured “Real Life,” a track that was featured on ABC’s The Catch and E’s The Royals — and the track was also featured in a Kia Stinger ad campaign throughout Europe. Adding to a growing profile, the Birmingham-based singer/songwriter has opened for the likes of Seinabo Say, Jamie Woon, Zella Day, Tiggs Da Author, Vaults, Kaleo and others. He also received frequent airplay across BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 6 and BBC Introducing — and was nominated for 3 Unsigned Music Awards before he signed to Ultra Music.

Since signing to Ultra Music as their first blues/soul/pop act, Stealth has continued to build upon a rapidly growing profile. His third EP, Chorus features “Gotta Stop Loving You,” a track with an accompanying Ryan Saradjola-directed video that has amassed over 1.5 million views on YouTube since its release; “Truth Is,” which was included on the official FIFA ’19 soundtrack alongside tracks from Barns Courtney, Billie Eilish, Broods, Childish Gambino, Death Cab For Cutie, Gorillaz, Logic and more.

Stealth’s latest single, the Stevie Wonder meets Fela Kuti and The Africa 70-like “Black Heart” finds the up-and-coming British singer/songwriter collaborating with the world famous funk and soul band The Dap Kings. Centered around a strutting bass line, a sultry horn line that only a few backing bands can provide, a twinkling organ line and Stealth’s soulful vocals, the track is full of bitter recriminations and accusations towards a deceitful lover — and by the end the song is a proud tell off to the same lover.

“‘Black Heart’ is all about noticing the little things a person does before they break up with you. They are saying one thing but their black heart says another,” Stealth says in press notes. “Had the pleasure recording this with the Dap Kings over in NYC and it was a dream come true. Obviously heard them on Back to Black and I’ve been a huge fan of Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones who they also recorded and played with. To have the opportunity to meet and record with these living legends was unbelievable.”

With the release of 2016’s I Fought Lovers EP, the up-and-coming, Bristol, UK-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Katey Brooks quickly amassed both a national and international profile for a sound and songwriting approach that has been compared to Jeff Buckley with material off her debut EP receiving enthusiastic airplay on BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 6 and  the CBC, as well as praise from Billboard, Pride and The Advocate. Adding to a growing profile, Brooks has shared bills with an eclectic yet impressive list of artists that includes Newton Faulkner, Ghostpoet, Martin Simpson, Deaf Havana, Lamb‘s Lou Rhodes, Mike and the Mechanics, and Mystery Jets, and has played at some of the world’s biggest festivals including Glastonbury, WOMAD, the 2012 Paralympics and Australia’s National Folk Festival. She also has appeared on a compilation with Anais Mitchell, Ane Brun and Marissa Nadler and recorded a track with The Rolling StonesBill Wyman and Paloma Faith. Along with that Joss Stone and renowned recording engineer Stuart Bruce have considered themselves fans.

Brooks grew up inside a cult, and as child, she found refuge in music. “It was a very chaotic upbringing, full of some pretty colourful and sometimes unsavoury, characters. But when I sang, I felt free and connected. For as long as I can remember, it’s been my way of getting what I need to say out,” she reveals in press notes. She began singing gospel, old spirituals and the songs from the likes of John Lennon and Elvis Presley — but by the time sh was a teenager, she entertained her peers with soul renditions.

Interestingly, when she was 16, she turned down a spot at the renowned BRIT School. “It would be interesting to know what would have happened if I had gone there, but I try not to dwell on that,” the Bristol-based singer/songwriter and guitarist says in press notes. “I always think that you’re where you’re meant to be. And if I had gone, I probably would have ended up writing slightly less authentically to myself. But who knows, because if all the things that have happened in my life nevertheless happened, maybe I still would have written the way I do.”

When Brooks turned 20, she became extremely ill and her life was on pause as she was convalescing; but as she was convalescing she joined a songwriters group led by her friend, Strangelove‘s Patrick Duff. “We would get together and play our songs to each other. It was really therapeutic.” Around this time Brooks was convinced that she had to devote her time to music. “So one day I just put on my own gig at the (Bristol) Folk House,” she laughs. “I sort of became an artist and promoter overnight,” Brooks recalls.

Sadly, shortly after making the decision to focus on her music, the Bristol-based singer/songwriter experienced a turbulent period of heartbreak and tragedy: the year she turned 22, her mother became ill and died — and shortly after that, one of her best friends went missing and died. “That’s definitely had an effect on the course of my life, and my writing,” Brooks says in press notes. “People have come up to me after gigs, particularly after songs I wrote during that time, saying /there’s a lot of sadness in your songs’ and it’s like ‘well, yeah.’ But I guess I’m lucky that I have songs that I can write, as a means to deal with things.”

Along with those hardships, Brooks has struggled to come to terms with her own sexuality. “In my most recent work I’ve finally been able to sing directly about women instead of using the mysterious ‘you,'” Brooks mentions in press notes. “I’m a private person in a lot of ways and I never wanted to be a poster girl for anything. But a few years ago I just thought screw it; I want to sing completely honestly. It felt like a weight lifted.”

Brooks’ latest single is the soulful “Never Gonna Let Her Go.” Centered around an almost gospel-like backing vocals, Brooks effortlessly soulful vocal performance and an atmospheric arrangement of a looping 12 bar blues guitar and a propulsive rhythm section, the song nods at classic soul and The VeilsThe Pearl” as it’s a thoughtful mesh of craft, earnestness and ambitious songwriting. But at its core the song is an uplifting and powerful plea to the listener that being your true self is a revolutionary act. “We’re all going to walk this planet with different scripts in our heads, different upbringings, experiences and beliefs, and if we want to get along and be peaceful we need to accept that. Hate isn’t the answer in any situation – so I believe anyway,” Brooks said. She adds, “Judge me for my true failings, ask me to change those things that actually effect you, and I’ll hear that. But one thing I’ll never change, and one thing that is definitely not wrong with me, is my love for women”.

New Video: Up-and-Coming British Singer-Songwriter Yola Celebrates the Hard-Working Little Person with Big Dreams

Over the past few months, I’ve written a bit about the up-and-coming London-based singer/songwriter Yola, and as you may recall she’s led a rather remarkable life — the sort that should eventually be made into an inspiring biopic: She grew up extremely poor and as a child was actually banned from making music. As an adult, she has overcome homelessness, being an abusive relationship, stress-induced voice loss and literally being engulfed in flames in a house fire, and all of those things inspired her Dan Auerbach-proudced full-length debut Walk Through Fire, slated for a February 22, 2019 release through Easy Eye Sound. 

So far, the up-and-coming British singer/songwriter has received praise from a number of major media outlets both nationally and internationally including NPR, Rolling Stone, Wall Street Journal, The Tennessean, Refinery 29, Billboard, American Songwriter, BrooklynVegan, Nashville Scene, Paste and Stereogum. But perhaps much more interesting for you reader, listener and viewer, Yola has had a lengthy career as a backing vocalist, songwriter and guest vocalist on a number of pop hits — and she has opened for James Brown and briefly was a member of the renowned trip hop act Massive Attack before traveling to Nashville to work with Auerbach and a backing band that features musicians, who have worked with Elvis and Aretha Franklin.  

Walk Through Fire’s first single “Ride Out in the Country” was a Muscle Shoals-like take on honky tonk country that to my ears recalled Sandra Rhodes’ under-appreciated Where’s Your Love Been. Centered around twangy guitar chords, lap steel guitar, some Rhodes electric organ, a soaring hook and Yola’s easy-going and soulful vocals, the song is an achingly sad breakup song, written from the perspective of someone reeling from a devastating breakup, complete with the recognition that your former lover has moved on and that maybe you should be doing so too — even if it’s profoundly difficult for you. “Faraway Look,Faraway Look,” the album’s second single was a slow-burning and swooning, Phil Spector Wall of Sound, meets classic Motown Records track that was centered around a soulful, old school arrangement and a soaring hook while being roomy enough for Yola’s incredible vocal range to shine in a well-written and well-crafted song. 

Walk Through Fire’s third and latest single “Love All Night (Work All Day)” is a slick and soulful amalgamation of Motown and Muscle Shoals soul, with a dash of Nashville country and 70s AM rock  and it’s a perfect vehicle for Yola’s warm and effortlessly soulful vocals. Much like the preceding singles, “Love All Night (Work All Day)” comes from hard-fought and hard-earned experience, which gives the material a wisdom and honesty that can be so rare in contemporary pop songs. In this case, the song’s narrator details a  life of working multiple jobs to scrape by, having big dreams and at some point taking an enormous risk to achieve them. And what makes the song remarkable, beyond its well-crafted and well-written nature, is the fact that the song is a celebration of the little person, who’s out there busting their ass to get by, trying to maintain their dignity and sanity in the rat race. Keep on dreaming and keep on hustling. 

Directed by Dan Teef, the recently released video for “Love All Night (Work All Day)” was shot in a South London bar and is centered around a beautiful young, working couple with big dreams. “My new video for ‘Love All Night (Work All Day)’ was shot in a stunning pub in Peckham, South London,” Yola says of the video for her latest single. “I’ve lived all over London (including on the streets in East London at one time) but before that I lived in a shared house in South London and I think the area will always feel like my London home. The song celebrates a way of life. It’s a life I used to live, growing up in Bristol and working multiple jobs to get by as I started out in music. I love listening to music from people who’ve not just been on a conveyor belt to the big time and I think it is important to hear more music from the working class again.  People who, at some point, had no choice but to work all day long and maybe take a risk in pursuit of what they love.”

Despite his relative youth, 20 year-old  Bay Area-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Simon Lunche has actually had a rather lengthy musical career that he can trace back to when he was a small child: he took up guitar when he was 5, eventually becoming one of the youngest endorsed artists in the history of Gibson Guitars; but he’s best known as the creative mastermind and frontman of The Blondies, an act that formed when he was just nine. The Blondies acclaimed album Just Another Evening was released in June 2016, right as Lunch was about to graduate high school.

While several of the older band members decided to focus on finishing college, Lunche opted to forego school and pursue music full-time. And although Lunche had written The Blondies four, full-length albums on his own, the Bay Area-based singer/songwriter and guitarist found that working as a solo artist added a much greater degree of creative freedom — and as a result was an unexpected evolution in his sound and songwriting approach. “As I started working on my new music, I rediscovered the reason why I picked up guitar in the first place,” Lunche says in press notes. Expanding on the technique he’d developed and sharpened since he was a child, he advanced from his former role as a rhythm guitarist and started crafting more intricate and richly textured guitar lines. “I don’t go for that shred-happy stuff that’s going to blow the roof off,” he says. “For me, it’s more about slower, smoother playing and more melodic lines that really stay with you in a special way.”

Lunche’s forthcoming solo debut, was mixed by Grammy Award-winning engineer Dave Reitzas, who’s worked a wide array of artists from Barbra Streisand to The Weeknd, and the album reportedly draws from the Bay Area-based singer/songwriter and guitarist’s longtime love of Van Morrison and Leonard Cohen with a natural soulfulness and thoughtfulness. “I think as you get older, you start to appreciate these little moments in time in a way you maybe never had before,” Lunche says. “A lot of what I’m writing right now is about dealing with change and trying to move forward, but still holding onto some reminiscence of the past.”

“Cherry Wine,” the first single off Lunche’s forthcoming solo album is an effortlessly soulful yet lush and carefully crafted take on pop that draws from 60s and 70s songwriter-centered soul and Northern soul, with a loose, bluesy guitar line. To my ears,  the song reminds me a bit of Simply Red‘s  “Holding Back the Years” and “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” complete with a soaring, gospel-inspired backing vocal section — and a wistful and heartache-filled nostalgia. The new single finds the young singer/songwriter writing and singing from a perspective that belies his relative youth while aiming at something timeless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Up-and-Coming British Singer Songwriter Yola Releases a Swooning Wall of Sound-Inspired New Single

Late last year, I wrote about Yola an up-and-coming London-born and-based singer/songwriter, who has led a rather remarkable life; the sort of life that should be made into an inspiring biopic: Yola grew up extremely poor, and as a child she was actually banned from making music. She has also overcome being in an abusive relationship, stress-induced voice loss and literally being engulfed in flames in a house fire, which inspired her Dan Auerbach-proudced full-length debut Walk Through Fire,  slated for a February 22, 2019 release through Easy Eye Sound. 

The up-and-coming British singer/songwriter has received praise from a number of media outlets both nationally and internationally, including NPR, Rolling Stone, Wall Street Journal, The Tennessean, Refinery 29, Billboard, American Songwriter, BrooklynVegan, Nashville Scene, Paste and Stereogum. But perhaps much more interesting she has opened for James Brown and joined renowned trip hop act Massive Attack before traveling to Nashville to work with Auerbach and a backing band that features musicians, who have worked with Elvis and Aretha Franklin.  

Now, as you may recall, album single “Ride Out in the Country” was a Muscle Shoals-like take on honky tonk country that to my ears recalled Sandra Rhodes’ under-appreciated Where’s Your Love Been. Centered around twangy guitar chords, lap steel guitar, some Rhodes electric organ, a soaring hook and Yola’s easy-going and soulful vocals, the song is an achingly sad breakup song, written from the perspective of someone reeling from a devastating breakup, complete with the recognition that your former lover has moved on and that maybe you should be doing so too — even if it’s profoundly difficult for you. Walk Through Fire’s latest single is the slow-burning, swooning, Phil Spector Wall of Sound, meets classic Motown Records-like “Faraway Look.” Centered around an old-school arrangement and a soaring hook, the song is roomy enough for Yola’s incredible vocal range to shine. 

Certainly, what the first two singles reveal is that the British singer/songwriter is a rare vocalist, a vocalist, who can wail the blues and belt like a true pop balladeer — sometimes within the same song. And in this case, “Faraway Look” is about that precise yet profound and deeply awkward moment when it’s so obvious that you’ve fallen in love with someone that everyone else notices, including your object of affection. And in that peculiar moment, it’s now or never. 

Directed, by Tim Duggan, the recently released video follows several very lonely people. who seem to be longing for much more in their lives — and yet, they’re not quite sure how to go about it; but part of their longing is stirred by watching Yola perform the song on a variety of devices. Interestingly, the video is shot with grainy Super 8 Film, which gives the video an appropriate old-timey feel. 

New Video: Stone Mecca’s Politically Charged and Heartfelt Visuals for “Boogeyman”

Stone Mecca is a Los Angeles, CA-based producer, singer/songwriter and self-taught multi-instrumentalist, who honed his own craft by listening to Jimi Hendrix, BB King, Parliament Funkadelic, Al Green, Prince, and Earth, Wind and Fire — and as a producer and musician, the Los Angeles-based producer and musician has played live with the aforementioned Earth, Wind and Fire, George Clinton, Wu-Tang Clan and RZA. Developing a reputation for easily navigating through a diverse array of musical genres and styles, Stone Mecca has contributed to the soundtracks for Django Unchained, The Main with the Iron First, Friday, Blade: Trinity, Soul Plane, Repo Men, Afro Samurai and Afro Samurai Resurrection. The Los Angeles-based producer and multi-instrumentalist has also appeared on albums by Wu-Tang Clan, RZA, Kanye West, Ice Cube and Snoop Dogg. And as a solo artist, Stone Mecca’s 2007 full-length debut First Contact featured the critically acclaimed song “A Walk,” a track that OkayPlayer said “in a fair world, music like this would be present all the tim eon prime time rotation in various radio markets.” 

Stone Mecca’s latest album Alienman was released last November, and the album finds the Los Angeles-based producer and multi-instrumentalist stripping down his sound to the rawest form possible — and while pairing tweeter and woofer rocking hip hop beats, funky bass lines, bluesy guitars and soulful melodies, his sound generally blurs the lines between hip-hop, soul, blues, funk and roots rock. Alienman’s latest single is the sultry and swaggering “Boogeyman.” Centered around thumping beats, some blazing guitar work and a G-funk era bass line, the track features some politically charged and righteous lyrics that subtly recall the great Curtis Mayfield and JOVM mainstay Cody ChesnutT, as the song touches upon hypocrisy and challenges media-driven fear-mongering, stereotyping and racism. 

Directed by Alex Von Kurkendall and based on a concept by Stone Mecca and Von Kurkendall, the recently released video further emphasizes the politically charged nature of the song as it reminds the viewer that with every group there are villains and heroes — and that most important, we live in a society in which the dignity and decency of entire groups of people are being ignored. 

New Video: Camille Trust Returns with a Swaggering, Feminist Anthem

Throughout the past handful of years, I’ve written a bit about Camille Trust, an up-and-coming Tampa, FL-born, New York-based soul/pop artist. And as you may recall, Trust has cited the likes of Janis JoplinLauryn Hill and Etta James; however from with her energetic, dynamic stage presence and raw, unvarnished honesty, her work to me, seems much more indebted to Mary J. Blige.

2018 has been a big year for the Tampa-born, New York-based soul/pop artist, as she released her long-awaited debut EP No Other Way. Trust closes out the year with the release of “Freak,” a sultry track that draws from both classic soul, contemporary pop and hip-hop simultaneously as its centered by a Gwen StefaniHollaback Girl” meets Mark Ronson‘s “Uptown Funk” meets Rick James-like performance from Trust, handclap-led hook, a horn arrangement reminiscent of Earth Wind and Fire. But more important, the song is a brash, boldly feminist anthem in which the song’s narrator talks about wanting and needing raunchy, nasty, freaky sex from her object of affection.

Directed by Tanima Mehrotra and featuring choreography by Camille Trust and Ivy Ledon, the recently released video features Trust and a series of different backing dancers shot in a series of dressed in bold, bright colors in front of equally bold, bright backgrounds — before pulling out to reveal the behind the scenes, with Trust taking off earrings and getting ready for a successive video. Much like the song, it’s brash, sensual, playful and captures the artist’s swaggering and undeniable confidence and presence.