Our first artist on our Ones to Watch 2011 list will come as no surprise to regular readers of Breaking More Waves, as we’ve given Clare Maguire regular coverage since January 2009 (here). We’ve even had to bend the rules a little to get her on this list having originally selected her at number 6 on last year's list. That was in hindsight a little too early; with her debut single Ain’t Nobody finally seeing the light of day in October of this year. A single low key festival slot at Latitude 2010 (reviewed here) has been followed by well received support slots with Hurts (reviewed here) and Plan B, as well as her own debut headlining show in London in November. Next year Clare already has gigs lined up supporting Hurts again and a gig in London’s Bush Hall as part of the ‘New to Q’ sessions. Then finally an album - Light After Dark will be released in the early part of the year. We have high hopes for it being in our end of year best of list for 2011.
Maguire has been signed to a major label (Polydor) and there is already significant work being done to get her music heard. You've probably already read the stories about her drinking with Jay-Z a hundred times or more, and as cool as that is, it has more to do with celebrity culture than the music, so we'll go no further with that tale here. We're not OK magazine. Read about it here if you must, as that publication seems interested in that kind of journalism. These days though, such stories are required to get your name out there - Google ' Jay-Z and Clare Maguire' and you will see the number of sites that have repeated the story. It's our guess that in interviews Clare will run out of fingers and toes to count the number of times she's asked about going drinking with Jay-Z.
The major label deal and possible mainstream potential that Maguire possesses could lead to certain sectors delivering the inevitable backlash at some point, rather like in 2010 there was a critical backlash against Ellie Goulding (for being too 'pop' in the critics eyes - we disagree) and Hurts (for being too 'pretentious' /' pop' and not delivering on initial promise - we however are really pleased with the way Hurts turned out - but you can't please everyone - ever ) before they both found their true audience. Those who became familiar with Maguire through the dark, spacious and thrilling Breakage remix of Ain’t Nobody may be disappointed to discover that this is not what Maguire’s material sounds like – and should she crop up on the BBC Sound of 2011 list, of which we suspect there is a reasonably strong possibility, further critics will probably wade in with the “what do the tastemakers know,” negativity that occurs but is quickly forgotten every year.
But let’s forget the marketing, forget the critics and focus solely on the music. From the material we’ve heard and the live performances we've witnessed we can confirm that we are 100% in love with Clare Maguire. No make that 200%. Her big epic songs have received comparisons to Florence and the Machine and whilst this is not fully accurate, we can understand them. Maguire has mammoth emotive songs such as Last Dance, I Surrender and Shield and Sword that are delivered with an incredible voice that is huge thunderous and gutsily powerful – fully designed to grab hold of you and smother you firmly. When she performs you can see this emotion in her face, as she forces out every note as if it means everything to her.