“The pop star who can do no wrong” as one newspaper put it the other day – although you know they’re digging to find something on him. He is a young, British, successful internationally acclaimed singer songwriter and he’s only 23. Bastard.
His first two albums, the EPs and deluxe editions with extra tracks show what a diverse and clever writer he is. He can move from a traditional pop ballad like “Thinking out loud”, which has echos of Van Morrison to “Sing” a funk fuelled anthem that is as fresh a pop song as you could ask for. Many thought that his first album would be it for him – that “difficult second album” would be a stretch too far. They were completely wrong as he has somehow improved on a perfect album.
There are few artists I can think of who’s first two albums are as good as his. The last UK artist may well have been Coldplay – and I don’t think the similarity between the artists stops there. Like Chris Martin & Co he doesn’t actually care about the image, the opinion and trend setters, the bullshit that comes with the job, both are purely focussed on writing and performing music. Both have a core but wide audience base from teens to the golden oldies. A rare thing to achieve in this day and age of the music industry.
Songs like “Afire Love” are amazing from one so young – and I don’t mean that to be patronising, it’s just the depth of emotion and clarity of vision the lyrics have are mature and well constructed. “Autumn Leaves” is a beautiful track from the Deluxe edition of the first album and “You need me, I don’t need you” is a fantastic piece of writing with the cracking line “You say I’m up and coming like I’m fucking in an elevator”. This shows his humour too – thankfully he appears to take himself with a pinch of salt – but he obviously takes the industry very seriously and has a long-term plan and vision for his music.
Self-promotion was his starting point with YouTube, social networking and non stop gigging his path to stardom. But overall it is his great voice – which has a surprising range and tone to it, able to change for different types of song – top drawer songwriting and performance level that has made his rise stratospheric. I saw him at the Music Hall in Aberdeen and was completely blown away by him. Despite what Noel Gallacher (the sad old grumpy twat of yesteryear) says I know that playing to 80,000 at Wembley will be as good as an intimate gig in front of 200 fans. He has the talent to do both.
While his songs are on repeats as I drive around I still find something new in songs I’ve listened to a dozen times before. I can’t wait for the next album so I can add to my playlist and we see even more of this young man’s genius.