The New Classic
The wait for the next great British soul singer has been long and frustrating.
From Terence Trent D’Arby to Lewis Taylor to the great David McAlmont, the road is littered with those who have tried, who have sparked and flamed but then fallen. Indeed, there is a case that the last truly exceptional British soul man – irrespective of his mediocre backing band – was Mick Hucknall.
Fellow Mancunian Gareth Daley’s debut has been a long time coming. Daley actually made the BBC’s annual Sound Of… poll as long ago as 2011: Day and Nights was first scheduled for release the following year. It’s a delay that would imply doubts; false starts; second thoughts.
It’s a relief, then, to find that this is a stylish and imperious debut. Daley sings, in measured, aching tones and sometimes in a beautifully keening falsetto, of everyday affairs, of hopes and dreams, of love gone wrong. Like a Motown great, he sounds as organic as thinking aloud, as natural as breathing.
Thus Time Travel sees him yearning to turn back the clock to before things fell apart. Blame The World finds him upbraiding a feckless, faithless lover. On Broken he is on his knees, adrift and lost. They are all recognisable, universal human conditions, and he inhabits them brilliantly.
There is even an immaculate, nuanced version of – of all things – Joan Armatrading’s Love And Affection. Whisper it soft, but the long wait for the next great British soul man might just be over.