James Bay, Hozier, Jack Garratt

Forgive my short (ish) leave of absence but I return to you all with some of my favourite acts of the year. I’ll be honest and admit that 2014 was a bit of a disappointment when it comes to album releases. I was in fact willing to turn the page and hope for the best with this upcoming year when the following artists swooped in to save the day.

Let’s start things off with what is by far my favourite discovery in a long time. James Bay, British singer-songwriter, recently released his third EP Hold Back the River and boy is it genius. Following his two equally amazing EPs In the Dark of the Morning and Let it Go, James Bay masterfully brings to the table an array of honest and raw songs paired with beautifully stripped back melodies that demand to be felt. His flawless voice and poignant lyrics make every song a true masterpiece. I have a tendency to be left pretty uninspired by ballads and odes to a lost love often have my cynical self feeling somewhat annoyed. However, this time around I was completely taken aback and must admit defeat. Bay’s songs have such an unedited and uncensored feel to them that you are left with no other choice but to believe in the feeling, story and history behind each and every one of them. With his recent win of the Brits Critics’ Choice Award and the anticipation of his debut album in March 2015, I urge you to get your hands on his music; it truly is absolutely brilliant.

In keeping with the singer-songwriter theme, it comes as no surprise that I would have to mention Hozier. Having written my favourite album of 2014, Hozier puts together a beautifully crafted mix of blues, gospel and folk inspired tracks with stirring and rooted themes. This album goes to show how much imagery in music can do wonders. When done as exquisitely well as on this debut album, you’re met with songs that provide an enthralling and vivid experience. It’s one thing for artists to make albums you listen to and it’s another thing for them to create work that one gets to feel. This album is nothing short of an experience and it’s definitely a testament to the talent and genius of the artist behind it.

Finally, a recent discovery worth mentioning is Jack Garratt, another UK artist that seems to be making his mark. Bringing a unique twist to the solo act we typically see, Garratt mixes a slew of electronic and synth sounds with his soulful and soothingly haunting voice. If you’re a fan of artists like James Blake, then this will definitely be right up your alley. With his recent EP Remnants, Garratt provides atmospheric and dynamic songs covering an entire spectrum of motion and sound, making his sound incredibly unique. With this EP you get complex variations of intensity, waves of vocal impact and an overall engulfing experience. Check it out!

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