Thursday, 28 May 2020

Introducing: Lydiah

With an intoxicating voice that’s full of depth and soul, 20-year-old Liverpool singer songwriter Lydiah makes the sort of music that will grab you on the very first listen. There’s a gorgeously calm chemistry to what she does. Even when her vocal rises it does so with stately majesty. There’s no over the top holler here.

You can hear it on her debut single Holding Back, which intertwines acoustic guitar with gentle droplets of piano to create a beautiful canvas for her voice. Lydiah reminds me a little of another woman with the initial L - Laura Marling. Whilst vocally different there’s something about her self-assuredness combined with the folky sound that has a similarity. You can hear it in the gentle pause between the words’ I’m not the one holding back’ and ‘from you’. She’s absolutely in control and there’s no rush in her delivery.

Lydiah has already established herself on her local scene. In 2017 she won the Judges Award in the Liverpool Acoustic Songwriting Competition, she has picked up a number of high-profile support slots and in 2019 performed at Liverpool’s Sound City Festival. Holding Back is her debut single proper and it’s a peach. I can’t wait to hear more.

Lydiah - Holding Back

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Celeste - I Can See The Change

Remember when Celeste topped the BBC Sound of 2020? It seems such a long time ago and yet somehow also seems like just yesterday doesn't it? Since then the world has gone pretty mad hasn’t it?

Now here she is again with her new single I Can See The Change and yet despite the title and lyrics of this song, because of its timeless sound, it gives us all some sort of stability. 

Produced by Billie Eilish’s brother Finneas, he says of the track: “I saw Celeste perform at the Brits back in February and was blown away. She commanded the stage in a way that was simultaneously intimate and massive and I immediately went home and downloaded her entire catalogue. When I was approached about producing I Can See The Change, I was thrilled.  I have been lucky to produce songs for a few artists who I think will never go out or style and Celeste is certainly on that list.”

Celeste - I Can See The Change

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Erland Cooper - A Nightingale Sings Outside Our Window

I’m posting this today because if you haven’t seen or heard it yet you deserve to. Plus it seems perfect for a Sunday.

A Nightingale Sings Outside Our Window by Erland Cooper was a special piece created for BBC 6 Music to create a timestamped snapshot of these times. If the Covid-19 pandemic has brought and continues to bring many truly awful stories to our society it has also sometimes enabled and inspired us as humans to create moments of beauty. This is one of them. Taking field recordings made by 6 Music listeners whilst in lockdown, together with words from Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, (a recording that must be around 200 years old), Paul Weller, and some beautiful strings, Cooper creates a powerful piece that is truly moving. Deespite the changes we have all undergone, he manages to find a sense of exhilaration and hope through the sounds.

Quite wonderful.

Erland Cooper - A Nightingale Sings Outside Our Window

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Introducing: Courting

With yestetrday's announcement of the 8-strong shortlist for the 2020 Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition, it seems like a good time for me to do an introducing piece on the Liverpool band Courting - one of the bands on the list. I first came across them in early January when they put out their frenetic single Football, their second track after debut single Not Yr Man which was released in 2019. 

Courting sound like a raucous riotous proposition. Their music is the gang sound of screwed up faces and sweat; pummelling guitars and shouty vocals that are mosh-pit ready, but with something underneath it that suggests they might not just stick to one formula as they develop. They come from the same place musically as bands such as Feet, Hotel Lux, Sorry and Squid. They’re the sort of band that indie kids will like but so will your BBC 6 Music listening ex-punk middle-aged dad.

Their stand-out song of the three they have released online so far is the aforementioned Football. The band describe it as being about the importance of the sport in British culture, but also how that leads to parents living out their dreams by pushing their kids into it. It’s good to see bands tackling interesting and different topics; it makes a real change from another 'be who you want to be' anthem.

Their latest tune is the chirpy David Byrne’s Badside, which has both a punky strut and a swagger of Britpop combined with the best of The Libertines. It's not to do with the Talking Heads frontman (which would have been amusing) but instead tackles class tourism and casual racism. It also features a saxophone solo and for this reason alone is worth your listen. More of this musical variation please.

You can see the full list of Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition finalists by clicking here

It’s a competition I’ve helped judged in the past and it always throws up some fine quality acts. 2020 also sees a few oddities on the list in so far as they are artists that have already been around for a long time, showing if nothing else that musicians have to be in it for the long game these days – success doesn’t always come overnight. I first remember coming across Ajimal for example in 2011/12 when I read about him on another music blog (Flying with Anna – now long retired) and he played Southsea Fest (RIP) in my home city around that time. I subsequently nominated him myself for the Glastonbury Competition long list in 2016. Also, Joshua Burnside will probably be known to many music fans having won the Northern Ireland Music Prize in 2017 (I wrote about him here

Courting however are fresh out the box having formed at school in 2018. Give them a listen below and get energised by their sound.

Courting - Football

Courting - David Byrne's Badside