Voices Carry: Betty Who, Sam Dickinson, Lawson, Simon Curtis, Bac2ssential with Charly Mae, plus My Favourites of the First Half of ’13

It’s summer and the best voices soar on a clear sunny day…

BETTY WHO  “Somebody Loves You”

Australia has given us another divine new voice in the form of singer Betty Who, who dropped her EP The Distance amid oodles of praise.  Add my endorsement – “Somebody Loves You” is a sparkling single that could weave its spell in the same way that Katy Perry’s best singles can overtake you.  And while this single just glows, the EP, which is free for the downloading right here, shows much depth that will make her a keeper in the pop world.


Sam Dickinson is a new British blue-eyed soul singer based out of Newcastle.  Stop.  “New British blue-eyed soul singer” is almost always a good sign for me with music, but even with that positive heads up, young Sam has a unique, powerhouse voice that will blow the roof off your local club.  Take heavy doses of 80’s Simply Red and Style Council via contemporary dance tunes and add significant inspiration from the Atlantic/Stax era of the late 60’s, and you will hear where Sam Dickinson is coming from in “How It Used To Be”, from his forthcoming album The Stories That Occurred, which is due in two weeks.  I will have the scoop on that album for you closer to that time.

LAWSON “Missing”

Just in advance of yesterday’s official UK and Australian release of “Brokenhearted” (featuring B.o.B.) (which I wrote about right here), promising UK quartet Lawson treated us to an acoustic performance of Everything But The Girl’s classic 1995 hit “Missing”.  This is particularly impressive because the original version of  “Missing”, from EBTG’s Amplified Heart album, was acoustic.  But all eyes and ears are on singer Andy Brown, who embodies this cover with passion and desperation, very unlike the original.  I hope they perform it in concert when I see them again in late August.  In fact, the boys can take it as an official request – pretty please 🙂


Lately, one of our favourite American wunderkinds of this decade, Simon Curtis, has been chatting on Twitter about how one of his songs called “Meteor” was excerpted in a new TV show called “Twisted”.  Yesterday, he let on that the song was available on the Internet to hear, for those that could find it!  Always up to a challenge, I have indeed located this frenzied bit of arpeggio-laden Swedish-influenced pop, which according to the Soundcloud link was discreetly posted about 10 months ago.  Even if it may not receive official release, it’s certainly way beyond a lot of the fluffy Europop that will grace your ears this summer. A very shiny sign of good things to come from Simon’s work-in-progress.

BAC2SSENTIAL featuring CHARLY MAE “Waiting For You”

Though I’m still digging her anthemic “Girls Go Hard”, UK singer Charly Mae has lent her big, big voice for the first time to a deep house club banger courtesy of Bac2ssential called “Waiting For You”.   It’s got that familiar, infectious house bounce that is slayed by Charly Mae’s engaging vocal.  Dance club DJ’s shouldn’t overlook this one.


Songs (in alphabetical order)

BEGGING  Anton Ewald


CAPTAIN  FrankMusik

THE CITY  River Tiber

CLARITY  Zedd featuring Foxes

GET LUCKY  Daft Punk featuring Nile Rodgers & Pharrell Williams


LIFTED  Kwik Fiks & Bongiovanni

MAP  FrankMusik

MY GIRL  Willy Moon

1998  Matthew Koma


PARACHUTE  Matthew Koma


SAIL INTO THE SUN  Gentlemen Hall

SOMEBODY TO LOVE ME  Eli Escobar featuring Nomi Ruiz

VOCAL  Pet Shop Boys

A WORLD APART  Davis Redfield

YEAH YEAH  Willy Moon

YOUR TOUCH  Blake Lewis

Albums (alphabetical by performer)

MATT DUSK  My Funny Valentine: The Chet Baker Songbook


TRAVIS GARLAND  Fashionably Late II (EP)

MATTHEW KOMA  Parachute (EP)

MIGUEL  Kaleidoscope Dream

WILLY MOON  Here’s Willy Moon

JARELL PERRY  Simple Things (EP)




ANDY SUZUKI & THE METHOD  Born Out Of Mischief

Your Long Weekend Playlist, Part I: FrankMusik, Bright Light Bright Light, Graffiti6, Charly Mae, Anton Ewald, and Oscar Zia


FRANKMUSIK “Chasing Shadows”

When you hear the compelling beauty of a song like “Chasing Shadows”, you know that the rest of the songs you haven’t already heard from FrankMusik’s upcoming album Between (due June 8) are going to be equally grand.  It’s a really rich song – almost too rich – that almost makes you want to get sad and teary-eyed.  But no!!  Where his song “Captain” is the chaotic storm, “Chasing Shadows” is the calm resolution where you’ll see the rainbow once you get past the mountain ahead.  The supurb high notes and huge chorus make you feel glad and relieved at the same time.  As his previous EP title said, the journey is ‘far from over’.

Get “Chasing Shadows” on iTunes, but also be sure to listen to and download a song that won’t appear on Between, “One Mile” (below).  As with many of his other songs that don’t fit into the final package, FrankMusik does not just give you filler.  “One Mile” is a joyful and soulful pop confection.




Rod Thomas (who is BLx2) is currently playing a number of shows in the USA (New York, Boston, Washington DC) in advance of the final single release from his 2012 debut album Make Me Believe In Hope.  “Moves” is a brilliant choice, one that I certainly hoped for, since I added it to my chart last year (where it peaked at #6) in-between releases of “Waiting For The Moment” (#1) and “Feel It” (#5).  As an added attraction to the single, BLx2 is including “Blueprint” (first available last year on a limited USA release), which starts off slow and thoughtful as do many BLx2 songs, but gets out in the open and reaches for the sky at about the 2 minute mark and by then you’re just hopelessly hooked.  The “Moves” single including “Blueprint” arrives June 3.


GRAFFITI6, “Wash My Sins”

After a well-deserved success in 2012 with the enduring “Free” from their Colours album, duo Jamie Scott and Tommy Danvers are back with new songs.  “Wash My Sins” is the first taste of new Graffiti6 for your ears, and if you would like a gospel-flavoured dose of pop/R&B to wrestle you out of bed in the morning, then “Wash My Sins” will do just that!  It’s definitely several steps away from “Free” or “Stare Into The Sun”, but it shows you that this duo is muscling ahead and chock full of surprises for you.  Very much looking forward to more new songs from Graffiti6.

CHARLY MAE featuring PW, “Girls Go Hard”

There is no doubt in my mind that I think UK singer Charly Mae is a potent voice waiting to happen.  And “Girls Go Hard”, a powerful female empowerment song that draws on inspiration from Beyonce and Rihanna songs, could help get her there.  It’s probably the most deliberately aggressive song by Charly Mae yet, and the rap by PW is well-placed and memorable.  I would have liked to have heard less power and more vocal range, as in Charly Mae’s covers of Christina Aguilera songs among others, but overall it’s still quite well done.  For another side of Charly Mae, check out the fun duet with Brazilian singer Edoo below on “Scream and Shout”, which to me is an awful song but the two tackle it and make much more of it than I expected.  Watch for more songs from Charly Mae soon!


ANTON EWALD, “Begging”

I know I’m a bit behind on writing about this one, but it seems like every other year there is a truly winning performance that comes out of Sweden’s Melodifestivalen contest, even if it’s not the song that wins.  This time we have 19 year old singer/dancer/ choreographer Anton Ewald, whose showy presence in “Begging” (which he choreographed – he’s also been a dancer on the show in recent years) comes close to rivalling his friend Eric Saade, who had better keep his eye on that Swedish male pop crown he wears 😉 So many pop singers from Sweden deserve an international shot – the Nordic fans have to let go of them for just a little while so that the rest of the world can embrace them!


OSCAR ZIA, “#Fail”

16 year old Swedish singer Oscar Zia has released one of the year’s delightful trifles, “#Fail” (aka “Hashtag Fail”), and I’m hoping pop philes will help spread the word to take the song around the world.  File it less next to Anton Ewald – whose “Begging”, ironically, beat out “”Jalla Dansa Sawa” by Behrang Miri in Melodifestivalen, a song in which Oscar provides vocals – and Eric Saade, and more beside the feel good pop of Dutch singer Jeronimo.  Oscar gives a much more mature performance than his years with a lot of help from great songwriter pedigree 🙂  It’s already been #1 on Sweden iTunes – big, fun, shiny tunes like this should rarely be kept under wraps!

Cool Clever Covers

As many of you know, it is not my first choice to listen to a cover of someone else’s song as the original almost always is better.  But here are some intriguing choices from some reliable performers you know all too well from these blog pages 🙂

Adam Tyler “One Thing”

As a precursor to plenty of new songs to come from the always-busy Adam, the singer/songwriter has delved into current tweendom with a sharp cover of One Direction’s “One Thing”.  It’s a smart diversion from the original, starting with a gruffer vocal but the song moves along to showcase Adam’s range and perfectly captures the sentiment of the song.  It’s a pleasant surprise from a song that’s been covered a lot since its release.  Listen below and check out Adam’s website.

Matthew Kurz “Diamonds”

So many performers are already out of the gate trying to outdo Rihanna’s version of this Sia song.  To me, this is one song that can be improved on immensely, and Matthew Kurz, who is so adept at his own songs, can do just that, as witness to his triumphant version of “Titanium” this past summer.  His vocal on “Diamonds” actually accentuates the lyrics and once again showcases his fine, expressive voice, giving it a totally different feel to the original.  Listen below and check out his You Tube channel for more music.

Charly Mae, “Your Body”

And you might be thinking, oh who can possibly do this song justice so soon after its release?  You may recall UK singer and resident gal-in-pink Charly Mae Tuffen from these pages earlier this year when she introduced herself with a cover of Christina Aguilera’s “Fighter”, followed by an equally punchy original “4 Ya Queen”.  Well since she had already tackled a Christina song, why not another?  With a re-recorded instrumental track, “Your Body” is simply soft putty when set to Charly Mae’s voice.  She has the range to get the job done as if she owned the song.  More new Charly Mae music will be coming soon so stay tuned to her Facebook page.  Watch her perform “Your Body” below.

Kyle Brylin, “Untouched”

Ever prolific Kyle is so often on a roll that I miss the odd song choice and have to backtrack.  So I re-found his rendition of The Veronicas’ smash “Untouched”, and while it doesn’t sound drastically different from the song musically, the lower register of Kyle’s voice is perfectly suited to it and matches the spontaneous-sounding energy level of the original.  Kyle is great at delving full thrust into the heart of many of his cover choices, and you can get this one as a free download right here.

Baiyu, “Paranoid”

Wait, a new cover of the classic Black Sabbath rocker?  Heh heh… No, New York singer Baiyu logically tackles the 2009 hit by the Jonas Brothers to showcase how she can breeze through a straight-forward pop song.  And what better way than by appearing as a contestant on the CW’s “The Next” in front of judge Joe Jonas?  Jonas fans have latched on to her and this is surely a delightful treat for them.  You can download “Paranoid” for free right here – appearing on “The Next” is only the start for this top notch talent so watch her You Tube channel for more news!

Long Weekend Jukebox: Ryan Star, Tyler Hilton, Cassie, Charly Mae, Will Young, Colin Munroe, Marcus Collins, Tooji

A few of my favourite performers return with new songs, plus of course the requisite bunch of talented newcomers 🙂

Ryan Star “Stay Awhile”

With crowd-pleasing honesty and passion in his songs and performing, Ryan Star has been keeping mighty busy since the August 2010 release of his last album 11:59 (for which you may recall I attended the CD launch show in New York City).  He’s in the process of recording a new album and released a free download called The America EP which dropped last month (including a cover of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down”).  “Stay Awhile” however is the first single from his upcoming album and has all the makings of a classic rock ballad, full of warm, understanding lyrics and Ryan’s big, versatile voice.  I don’t say it very often, but I’m predicting great things for “Stay Awhile”.   Ryan Star is currently on tour in the USA with Andy Grammer.

Tyler Hilton “Prince Of Nothing Charming”

After kicking off the year with a big rockin’ bang with the free download of “Loaded Gun”, Tyler precedes his upcoming album Forget The Storm with “Prince of Nothing Charming”, a song that has the witty lyrical wordplay and simple kind of melody that attracted many people to his music in the first place back in 2004/05 with songs like “The Letter Song” or “When It Comes” from The Tracks Of Tyler Hilton album.  This is a great song to tie into the final season of One Tree Hill, where Tyler plays Chris Keller.  Now that Tyler’s signed to Matt Serletic’s Emblem Records (home to Rob Thomas and Matchbox Twenty), it looks like the increasingly common music business hassles that have prevented release of the new album will benefit Forget The Storm in hindsight if the songs are this good.  Get “Prince of Nothing Charming” on iTunes.

Cassie “King Of Hearts”

Another singer who has had many delays with the release of her next album, Cassie Ventura tantalized us back in Fall ’06 with the Ryan Leslie produced pop/R&B ballad “Me & U”, which was positively everywhere for the next six months, getting to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.  And then the bottom kind of fell out with rumours abounding that she had been dropped by P. Diddy from his Bad Boy label.  Apparently not so (distribution switched from Atlantic to Interscope for her), as a few singles did surface in ’09 but failed to click.  So almost six years later and Cassie returns with “King Of Hearts” – which is decidedly unlike her first records.  In fact this is pretty pure dance pop that fits snugly next to Kylie Minogue or Britney Spears songs.  And as with “Me & U”, the production and music is much bigger than her voice, which is not a bad thing at all.  This one’s a tidy surprise and may take a while to catch on, so let’s see if club DJ’s jump on it first.

Charly Mae “For Ya Queen”

Picture yourself as a judge on “The Voice” doing blind auditions.  You hear this big soulful voice, with decided shades of Rihanna and Beyonce with more than a dash of Christina Aguilera.  You turn around and find yourself faced with a 20 year old blonde Brit dressed in trademark pink (as you will see in the acoustic video version below) – that would be Charly Mae Tuffen, whose debut single “For Ya Queen” is nothing short of instantly memorable.  The song goes for the vocal punch, which will grab younger fans that like the style who might be into Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez, while attracting older fans looking for something fun and not so sophisticated.  But there’s more than meets the ear on this one song for Charly Mae – she’s one to listen for in 2012.

Will Young “Losing Myself”

I feel like I somehow missed out on last year’s campaign around Echoes, which resulted in huge UK success for Will Young and appearances on many bloggers’ best lists for 2011.  I like the album but I suppose its songs didn’t stick with me enough, unlike limited freebie single “The Way I See” which somehow did.  At any rate, Echoes does not appear to be out of steam yet, witness the stylish and watchable video for “Losing Myself” which is a good way to bring people like me back around to appreciate the fine song that it is.

Colin Munroe featuring Pusha-T “The Fight Of My Life”

Like with records by Tyler Hilton and Cassie, Torontonian Colin Munroe got swept into a major record label shenanigans which prevented him from releasing his own new music since 2008’s seminal and diverse mixtape Colin Munroe Is The Unsung Hero – you’ll recall “Will I Stay”, featuring Dallas Austin and Wale.  That didn’t stop him from writing for the likes of Sky Ferreira and working with Drake, Travie McCoy, and Donnis in the interim or by releasing another free download EP called The Revox Suite, which is most known for grabbing Nicki Minaj’s rap out of Kanye West’s “Monster” (shortly after it went viral before the official release of Kanye’s last album) and pairing it up with La Roux’s “Bulletproof”.  He’s back with an emotionally powerful song called “The Fight Of My Life”, which is edgy pop/soul complimented by Pusha-T’s nicely contained rap.  “The Fight Of My Life” is a sign of great things to come – can’t wait to hear what’s next from Colin.  You can get it from his official website for free with an email subscription.

Marcus Collins “Seven Nation Army”

The rest of the world has to catch up with Marcus Collins, but UK audiences know him as the runner up to their X Factor competition winners Little Mix last year.  With tutelage from Take That’s Gary Barlow, Marcus grabbed a deal with RCA Records which will see his self-titled debut album released in March.  It’s preceded with an interesting choice for a first single, a soulful take on The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army”.  Marcus makes it his own though, replacing the military thump of the original with a slinky groove, which is played out further by the handful 😉 in its colourful video.  Think of him as the UK male version of Janelle Monae – wonder what they’d sound like in a duet?

Tooji “Stay”

Although for me there doesn’t seem to be a song to root for in the lead up to Eurovision this year as with Eric Saade’s “Popular” last year, the backstory behind Norway’s official entry is so fitting.  Tooji Keshtkar was a refugee from Iran who ended up in Norway at age one, eventually becoming a model and MTV presenter, but with always a desire to be involved with the UN to assist children refugees.  But this young man has undeniable talent and stage presence, witness this starmaking performance of “Stay”.  I’m not sure if the song itself has the oomph to capture the Eurovision judges but it’s going to open international doors for Tooji.

Published in: on February 20, 2012 at 12:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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