As part of our round-up of all things bright and beautiful at the UK’s premier new music festival, The Great Escape in Brighton, Anna Smith checks out hopefuls Jodie Abacus and Rag’n’Bone Man.
Now, if you search Jodie Abacus on any variation of social media or music streaming platform you will inevitably be met with his latest single ‘She’s in Love With The Weekend’. It’s funky, it’s sugary and it’s super radio-friendly; just the kind of tune this South London-based singer needs to put his name out there into the big wide world of soul.
That would explain why he played it twice during his Vevo acoustic set this weekend, maybe? Maybe.
His music is a perfectly blended combination of dreamy summertime pop and upbeat hooks. Lyrics such as ‘Sometimes I feel like I’m a jar of honey’ match his accessible feel-good style, and the funk basslines on tracks such as ‘Hot Kitchen’ and ‘Halfway to Mexico’ are so danceable it’s unbelievable.
Unfortunately however, as fun as his music may be, hidden among the cutting edge line up of The Great Escape 2016, Abacus could perhaps be easily forgotten. But if you fancy a good dance, or a soundtrack to a lovely summer’s day, he’s absolutely perfect.
To try and pin down the greatest up-and-coming vocalist at The Great Escape 2016 would be madness given the over-saturation of talent, but there is no question that Rag’n’Bone Man would be a strong contender. Returning to his hometown for a Friday slot at Coalition, Rory Graham deservedly packed out the venue to deliver his unique mix of hip hop and soul to a mesmerized crowd.
Rag’n’Bone Man has been a prolific underground name for a few years now, building a small army (17,000 Facebook likes) of dedicated fans with his deep, soulful crooning, but his songs are more than just his phenomenal vocal abilities. The innovative combination of hip hop beats and powerful guitar and bass driven rhythm add an enchanting complexity to the likes of opening track ‘Wolves’ and also ‘Guilty’.
It’s rare for a relatively unknown artist to be able to hold the full attention of a festival crowd by playing new songs back-to-back, but the set only gets more hypnotic as it progresses. Aided by a flawless a capella rendition of a song from his latest album, he cements his place as a contemporary soul master and a man deserving of the clichéd Next Big Thing title. A vocalist that epitomizes the phrase ‘has to be heard to be believed’, words on paper cannot do him justice.