Welcome all to 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘆’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗿, a series of weekly reviews by Charles Connolly - an artist in his own right. Here, Charles delves into the greatest brand new singles brought to you by the best unsigned artists on our electrifying and eclectic set of 𝙉𝙚𝙬 𝘼𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙎𝙥𝙤𝙩𝙡𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 playlists.
Charles dons his mortarboard and begins the class. “Settle down, children”...
This week I have moistly - it has been raining in London - been listening Jacob Collier. Many of you may not even have heard of this chap. He is not quite yet 27 years old, and already has a total of 5 Grammys (Grammys, not Grannies - that would be even more unlikely), breaking all previous records of all kinds. Not to mention MAKING records of all kinds. To say he is a virtuoso is really actually putting him down. I believe him to be the most talented musical artist since possibly Stravinsky or even Beethoven, and he is very much a genius. I don’t mean genius in the sense of a footballer scoring a goal, for that is slightly less than what I would call genius. In fact, I very rarely use the word. Paul McCartney is another musical genius. But Mr. Collier goes beyond this. McCartney has a gift. Collier has an incredible mind. If an informed man/woman/person/thing were to have a brain the size of a house, Jacob’s brain would be the size of the street. Or even the entire borough. His musical talents are seemingly quite literally unlimited. It is almost like he has the answer before you have even posed the question! His music knows NO bounds. No bounds at ALL! There is one problem, however. We, the general public are not on his level, or even close to it. We are barely on his horizon. We NEED boundaries. We need something we can understand and grasp. There needs to be a certain amount of familiarity (for most), or even predictability. There is something so satisfying about knowing where “the one” is. There is something so gratifying about knowing that the big old chorus is going to come nnnNOW. Jacob does not however make horrible dissonant disjointed “music”. He makes stunning MUSIC - no quotation marks. But it will only be for certain people, hence despite all the countless awards, he has never entered the Top 40 charts for any single or album. So! Where on Earth is CC going with this? Well. We have learnt that in order to make music that will appeal to the masses, it has to be not TOO dissimilar to music we know and love. But there is no point whatsoever in regurgitating the same old stuff, year after year (although this is exactly what most “artists’ seem to do these days). The question is this: How does one make music more interesting?
We could go the Collier route, but we can’t because not only will we be alienating most of the population, but we simply CAN’T. We are not good enough. And so it comes down to added subtlety and embellishment. The first thing would be to start with a really good, solid song. No point in continuing otherwise. This is exactly how Ross Cantrell and Finn McGowan started. Finn McGowan is a singer/songwriter in his own right. Ross Cantrell however is currently studying Jazz at Bath Spa University, majoring in all kinds of saxomophone (a reference that you may or may not get). Finn is a pop man at heart, whereas Ross is possibly a little more versatile - not always a good thing in terms of making a hit… Together, however, they have managed to strike a perfect balance. You Taught Me is without a doubt a pop song, but with nuance, difference and quirk. The song’s introductory synth has a pizzicato string part to back it up. The beat is solid. They came together for the melody, in terms of writing. Finn’s voice is smooth and soulful yet strengthened by worth. Verse One builds to the initial chorus with pace and understated class, and the chorus subtly surprised me. There was no explosion or banging beat. The music itself was as I expected - therefore pleasing in a familiar sort of a way. But instead of crashing down on us like an anvil, it bounces along easily like a Space Hopper straddled by a boy who has wisely spent his time practising. Other than this and the pizzicato strings though, the song is so far a very good pop song. At around 1 minute 30 seconds, things start to change. A synthesised double-clarinet part (completely guessing) joins us for the second pre-chorus. This in itself could be said to be somewhat unusual, but the fact that the harmony of the two parts is in parallel fourths (or what I like to call upside-down fifths), it truly makes you take note and refrain from drifting.
The brilliance comes at around the 2-minute mark. Ross takes out his shiny alto horn of brass from an unusually unbattered case and sings to us through the reed. This is not remotely expected. It is not a funky baritone fart that is heard in much pop music these days. Neither is it the cool schmooze of a tenor in a slow, sexy, soul classic. This is a rather upbeat, melodic line that leads us across the water like a lively sprite. As Finn joins us again, a bond is formed between reed and cord, as they skip together in similar line; not quite unison, not quite call and response. They continue on their merry way. Finn smiles while singing. Ross very much would like to, but is finding it a tad difficult due to having a great big mouthpiece clenched between his teeth.
Ross sends us off with a cheeky salute in the form of a II/V/I (apologies to the non-music-geeks). They have both plopped off the other side of the horizon, no doubt to have a cup of chai with our fellow Britonian: the young Mr. Collier.
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