There are cities with rich musical cultures and characteristic sounds. The Seattle grunge sound of the late 1980s and early 1990s and the original Nashville sound are two examples. Similarly, there are cities with rich musical cultures without a characteristic sound, but with a disproportionate amount of another characterizing trait. Our example – London seems to be home to more than its fair share of male singer/songwriters.
Even limiting the list of singer/songwriters to male Londoners who have been featured by Indie Obsessive within the last year, there are very strong entries. Ben Howard, John Newman, and Sam Smith easily fit in a first tier. The Facebook page of Tom Odell identifies London as his current location. Josh Record’s song “The War” is a favorite. Luke Sital-Singh doesn’t receive the attention he deserves. Sivu (James Page) is from St. Ives, but is currently based in London. “Minimal Love” is a song that puts Freddie Dickson on this list with a star next to his name.
Well, it’s time to add two more names to the list of London-based male singer/songwriters featured by Indie Obsessive – Joel Baker and Daniel James. Below are two songs from each artist. In both cases, one song is from 2014 and the other from 2013.
One reason for the strength of the Londoners is their willingness to share the spotlight with other vocalists. Our favorite songs from Ben Howard contain powerful backing vocals. This also applies to the music of Joel Baker. The songs “Thorns” and “You’re Not Alone’ are attractive without the male/female blends that are used in the choruses, but the songs become blogworthy when the blends enter.
For “Thorns,” the backing vocals are used earlier in the song, but the show stopper is quasi-transition at the 2:16 mark. It’s a quasi-transition because Baker doesn’t change his reflective cadence, but the power of the backing vocals gives the impression that all aspects of the song have gone slightly up-tempo. The strings and the hint of banjo only enhance the quality of this track.
“Thorns” by Joel Baker
“You’re Not Alone” places greater emphasis on the male/female blend.
Admittedly, Daniel James is a native of Northern Ireland. But he has moved to London, which qualifies him for this post. Well, that in combination with his ability to generate the type of music we enjoy.
According to the press release about Daniel James, he began writing songs only “after the loss of his grandmother, who had been a huge influence during his childhood.”
“A Lonely Man” by Daniel James
“We Are on Fire” by Daniel James