These days, it’s easy to find yourself cynically switching off when someone mentions the words ‘singer-songwriter’. I know I’ve been guilty on occasion. The term seems to have slowly become synonymous with every young-pretender who has a decent voice, knows a few open-chords, and has built-up a YouTube channel full of covers.
Don’t get me wrong, there is undoubtedly some great young talent out there – some even gaining exposure in the ways I just dismissively mentioned – but with all these acoustic guitars being brandished about the place, and with the media quick to try and make a story of each and every fleeting internet sensation, I can’t help but feel that it’s getting harder and harder to hear the best above the din.
But then, every so often, you find an artist whose music manages to strike a chord somewhere deep inside you; an artist who owns the mantle ‘singer-songwriter’, and restores your faith in what it can mean. Will Knox is one such artist.
Splitting his time between his hometown of Londonand New York, and having honed his craft studying at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, Knox cuts his audiences to the quick with his striking voice and lyrical prowess. One of the founding members of Handsome Lady Records (a label he started with his friends and fellow musicians Alec Gross and Jake Hill) Knox released his gently-beautiful debut ‘The Matador And The Acrobat’, featuring standout tracks such as ‘Buckled Knees’ and ‘Never Letting Go’.
Latest release ‘Lexicon’, which takes it’s inspiration from a forgotten asylum on New York’s Blackwell Island, is presented in the rather novel form of a digital comic book and five-track EP. In addition, considering it’s available as a free app for all your iPhones and iPads, it would just be daft to pass it up. What a generous guy, right?
Will Knox is on the cusp. Long may real talent endure.
This Autumn is set to be a rather significant one for singer-songwriter Gabrielle Aplin. Not only has she made her iTunes festival debut supporting Emeli Sande, she’s also about to release her debut single ‘Please Don’t Say You Love Me’.
Recently dubbed as a female version of Mumford & Sons, Gabrielle is only nineteen years old and originates from Bath in Somerset. Up until recently she would probably have been recognised as ‘Gaberrz’ – the name of the YouTube account where she first clinched attention by covering song ‘The Liar and The Lighter’ by Surrey- based band You Me at Six.
Whilst still at high school her fanbase grew due to her many covers, originally grasping interest due to the fact she would take rock songs and reinvent them into her own style. Soon after this, Gabrielle impressed again by demonstrating her songwriting abilities and recording her first 3 E.P’s – the latest of which, ‘Home’, peaked successfully at number 10 on the iTunes album chart.
Gabrielle’s strength lies in the honesty of her songwriting and she has admitted that her songs are all autobiographical. Her songs offer the listener something personal that they are also able to relate to and that, doubled with Gabrielle’s smooth, incredibly unique voice, leaves the listener hooked. Personally, I believe Gabrielle’s breakthrough performance came with her cover of Coldplay’s ‘Fix You’ for BBC Introducing. To take a song that is already acclaimed for having such emotional depth and perform it with a completely different, almost haunting quality, shows a vast amount of talent.
Aplin’s performance of ‘Fix You’ at Maida Vale earlier this year
A lot of artists emerge from YouTube nowadays, but it’s quite an experience to have followed Gabrielle’s progress over the last three years, from playing the guitar in her bathroom to performing at venues throughout the country. It’s refreshing to know that there is talent in Britain that doesn’t follow the generic route of emerging from reality television shows.
So grab yourself a copy of Gabrielle’s first single on the 18th of November!