14 for 2014: new songwriting talent
Once again, we don our predicting hats and name the artists you’ll be hearing a lot more of this year
ound about this time last year, we proudly made our predictions for the artists that we felt had the potential to make a real impression on the musical landscape in 2013. We promised that we’d regroup a year later and let you judge just how accurate, or inaccurate, those predictions were. So here we are!
The excellent Tom Odell and The 1975 each claimed UK No 1 albums, while Gabrielle Aplin made it to No 2. So we got those three right, at least! It’s not just the attention of the record buying public that counts though: megasales may not have been forthcoming but Valerie June released a splendid debut album (‘debut’ if you don’t count three previous self-released efforts, anyway) while Nina Nesbitt released two fine EPs to whet the appetite for her upcoming debut LP, which is due this February.
So now it’s time to put our reputations on the line once more, as we present to you our pick of the artists that we believe have the songwriting nous to take some pointed and deserving steps toward stardom in 2014…
You may not realise it but, you’ve probably already heard one of Australian songwriter Ry Cuming’s finest songs. Berlin was used by Sony in a stunning advert for their 4K Ultra HD TV. The song itself is equally stunning, highlighting Cuming’s affecting falsetto and delicate folk songwriting.
Courtney Barnett is another Australian songwriter. Her songwriting style has been likened to a female Kurt Vile, with her laconic vocal line and spacey effects adding to her witty and articulate lyricism. With a nomination for the ARPA Song of the Year in Australia under her belt, 2014 could be the year that nominations turn to awards.
‘Sultry’ is a term that’s thrown around all too often. However, in the case of R&B artist Jillian Banks, the term is more than warranted. Having grown up listening to Massive Attack, Banks applies their deep atmospherics to her compulsive songwriting.
Though a latecomer to music – he’s been playing guitar and singing for less than 18 months – Rhodes has already mastered the skill of projecting emotional sincerity into his work, in a manner reminiscent of the great Jeff Buckley. With Raise Your Love having featured on BBC Radio 1’s ‘Introducing…’ playlist last November, it won’t be long before Rhodes needs no introduction.
It’s been said that Maryland R&B songwriter Kelela helped to inspire Beyoncé’s self-titled 2013 album. While Kelela may not yet have the commercial clout of the former Destiny’s Child megastar, her glistening pop songwriting should see her make waves large enough to wash away some of the dross populating mainstream music and see her take their place.
We’ve quite the soft spot for George Ezra in the Songwriting office and it’s not just because he hails from our native city. With a booming granite-and-silk voice that bellies his tender years and frame, and a combination of gritty blues riffs and folk melodies, this Bristol songwriter is one of 2014’s true treats.
Emeli Sandé was the songwriter of 2012 and quite rightly so, as her soulful, jazz-tinged, emotive pop was simply Heavenly. The soulful R&B artist Moya has many of the same qualities as Sandé, but with the added bounce of primetime Amy Winehouse. Fearne Cotton and Perez Hilton have both tipped her for stardom and debut album Lost And Found shows you just why.
The alias of Gloucestershire songwriter Tahliah Barnett has been gathering a quiet storm of attention for her eerie take on R&B: think En Vogue reanimated by Tim Burton. With an inclusion in The Guardian’s ‘New Band of the Day’ section and a nomination for BBC’s ‘Sound Of 2014’, don’t expect FKA Twigs to stay underground for long.
Wunderkind is another overused term, but in the case of 19-year-old songwriter and producer MNEK it’s perfectly apt. With songwriting credits for The Saturdays, Little Mix, Rudimental and Duke Dummond and two number 1 singles to his name, one as writer and one as producer, the question now is how successful can he be as an artist in his own right?
Formerly the vocalist in Kid British, Bipolar Sunshine sees Adio Marchant strike out as a songwriter in his own right. Taking the name because of the contrast between his upbeat music – like Bastille treated to an evening of disco and house – and his sombre lyrics, a tour with Rudimental this February should see his music given the wider attention it deserves.
Say Lou Lou
Hailing from both Australia and Sweden, this sisterly duo have been attracting attention since they released the excellent Maybe You with its sad, new wave, climes. Like a poppier, less grave take on Desire’s deliciously moody synth-pop, it was addictive listening and subsequent singles have served to further whet the appetite. With an album due in June, expect big things.
A former contestant on America’s Most Talented Kids, Californian songwriter Tori Kelly has since seen her cover of Frank Ocean’s Thinkin’ Bout You received over 17 million views on YouTube. With EP Handmade Songs By Tori Kelly going to number 9 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart and a debut album in the works, 2014 could be the year for this soulful pop songwriter.
Having previously played in the Mercury-nominated, jazz-ethnic fusion group Portico Quartet, Mulvey is no stranger to acclaim. A summer 2013 tour with indie-folk darling Laura Marling introduced him to a new audience and upcoming single Cucurucu should see his star continue to rise.
Being compared to Bon Iver could be a curse for an aspiring songwriter. Not for Luke Sital-Singh: with a vocal that bears more than a passing resemblance to Justin Vernon and music that recalls a stripped-down Fleet Foxes, Sital-Singh is placed perfectly to step into the territory that has been vacated by the conclusion of Bon Iver as a project.
Words: Damien Girling