Leah Mason

There are great guitarists who have a shot at singing, and great singers who pass with a guitar. Unpretentious blues rock singer/songwriter Leah Mason is exceptional at both – how rare. Initially taking up the guitar self-taught, Leah took on the six strings like a child conquering the jungle gym in a sonic playground. Whilst all the other children squabbled for the limelight, Leah walked nonchalantly strumming past them all: an unaffected, organic talent.

Not dissimilar to powerhouse Joss Stone, Leah takes the plump and glossy quality of soul music and gives it an edge – and yet despite the punch she is so likeably laid back. Inspired by Janis Joplin, Patti Smith and Bonnie Raitt, Leah said “I don’t want to get caught up in comparisons to other girls with guitars who are out at the minute. I’m into Alison Mosshart, Janis Joplin, Courtney Love; essentially women who aren’t scared to show they don’t give a f***.”

Leah’s effortlessly potent flavour is brought to light in her track ‘Waiting On a Good Day’. The power rock energy brings a helping of guts laced with 80s The Clash-esque punk nostalgia. In a touch of roughed-up femininity her vocal range soars casually over the horizon; for an artist so nonchalant Leah has some pipes on her.

Similarly, in ‘Never Can Tell’ Leah’s voice cascades skybound as if falling up a waterfall. Combine this with shimmying maracas and polished chord progressions and the result hits you from inside: an afferent summertime high.

A strong recommendation, especially for those with a weakness for acoustic covers, is Leah’s live acoustic performance of ‘Toes’ on Mahogany Sessions at Lounge on the Farm. Whether you’re a savvy music follower or someone who enjoys it for pure pleasure, dare you not to gasp at the mega vocal range and dextrous guitar skill. Building through layers of quick finger picking, a fiery chorus and a rocky break, this breathes a welcome breath of summer festival season – catch it on Youtube.

For blues fans, ‘Is There A Man’ is another powerful track seeped in longing and vulnerability. The ballard-esque chorus implores, fervent and velvety, before rolling into an accomplished guitar solo that reminds us we’re looking at real ‘no frills’ talent. On a livelier tip, ‘San Antoine’ is a bip-bopping taste of country/folk rock that screams ‘shake a tail feather’.

Leah Mason is one of those artists you boast to your friends about discovering now, before everyone else catches wind. The horizon is bright. Although still an independent artist, in mid-2013 Leah toured with Nashville-born singer/songwriter Brendon Benson – incidentally also one of the founding members of the Raconteurs. Their forthcoming material together is something for any keen music follower’s radar. As she begins to really burst onto the stage, it’s clear that Leah is an artist who has taken careful time to hone-in her sound – a sound that shows off her talent as one of Britain’s best female vocalists and guitarists at the moment.

Find Leah Mason on Youtube, Facebook and Twitter.

Jim Ghedi

Jim Ghedi is the equivalent of a ‘sleeper hit’ in the local Sheffield music scene. Owing to the spiritual bent and ethereal soundscapes which constitute his music, his discreet acoustic creations have been lost on those who haven’t had their ears to the ground.

Another possible reason for slow but steady rise maybe the eclectic styles the 22-year-old draws from. Some have traced his musical roots to ‘Folk, Blues, Free Jazz and Eastern World Music’ putting forward the sound suggestion that Jim Draws influences far removed from hilly suburbs of Sheffield.

Thanks to a series of well-promoted shows in and around the city, word has spread about experimental folk artist. His innovative composition rejects formal structure in favour of a rhythmically and tonally-orientated order of music.

This isn’t music you can ignore; it demands your attention and you risk losing it if the nuances and shades aren’t headed.

Jim’s right-hand man is Neal Heppleston whose instrument of choice is the double bass and his deft picking and emotive bowing lays down the low-end bass frequencies to the songs. So far Jim and Neal have delivered two astonishing releases: ‘Archipelago’ and the recent ‘Of Abyssinia’.

The reference to the old empire reflects the meditative voyage the music navigates through. Though the music is spiritual in its sonic composition the themes are earthy and natural. Recent interest indicates that this ‘sleeper hit’ is causing the steel city to finally stir.

On a side-note, does Jim look a bit like Nick Drake?

Listen to ‘Of Abysinia’ here


Introducing Ford And The Shouts

Fronted by the beautiful Miss Ford, The Shouts are mixing sweet sounding Blues and Pop with funky beats and rhythms. The sassy four are only a year old; originally an acoustic/cover band, they hit on something special with their covers of Amy Winehouse, Paulo Nutini, and John Mayer. With a growing fan base the bands early successes have provided the bedrock to build up their own style and record some original tracks.

Currently working hard, recording more and more and boosting their exposure as much as possible, they’re already planning for festivals in the sunny months of next year. I’m anticipating an exciting and eventful 2013 for Ford And The Shouts, give their new EP ‘Shouting For Our Lives’ a listen, available for FREE on their SoundCloud, here.

[EDITOR PLEASE LINK http://soundcloud.com/fordandtheshouts for “here”. IT VANISHES WHEN I ADD IT]