Presenters’ Picks – 2017

Phoenix FM presenters choose their favourite albums and tracks of the year …

Aaron Heanue

Album: Mura Masa – Mura Masa

For me, Mura Masa’s self-titled debut studio album has to be my choice. An album I enjoyed because of the real variety of genres – alternative hits like Helpline which features up-and-coming vocalist Tom Tripp, electro tunes such as Who Is It Gonna B and Firefly featuring Nao and finally pop anthems like Second 2 None (featuring Christine and the Queens) and Nothing Else! (Featuring Jamie Lidell).

Track: Portugal. The Man – Feel It Still

My chosen track for this year’s presenter picks comes from American rock band Portugal. The Man. This song – released back in March – samples the Marvelettes’ track Please Mr. Postman. Although chart success in the UK wasn’t achieved (the song reached no 39), the track did get to number 1 in the US Mainstream Charts.

Alan Johnson

Album: Dua Lipa – Dua Lipa

Based on her debut album Dua Lipa is one of those artists whose music doesn’t seem to belong to any particular genre more than another, with plenty to please lovers of EDM and even hip-hop as well as those who prefer ballads to have a bit more of an edge to them than many that have dominated 2017.

Tracks like Hotter Than Hell and Blow Your Mind are more my thing than the collaboration with Chris Martin, Homesick, but what they all have in common is the thing that really makes Dua Lipa special – her voice.

Track: Camila Cabello – Crying In The Club

I’ve always been fascinated by songs that sample others, of which there’ve been a fair few in 2017, such as James Hype’s take on En Vogue’s Don’t Let Go in the fast-paced More Than Friends, or the slightly more subtle reworking of Maria Maria by Santana on DJ Khaled’s Wild Thoughts.

My favourite though has been the former Fifth Harmony member’s song co-written with Sia, which skilfully weaves elements of the 1999 worldwide chart topper Genie In A Bottle into an original but no less catchy melody. The echoes of Christina Aguilera’s debut hit are by no means the highlight of Crying In The Club.

Amy Deller

Album: Harry Styles – Harry Styles

The album I’ve probably listened the most to this year is Harry Styles’ debut album, which surprised me greatly, dismissing my pre-conceived, One Direction-esque ideas. The album includes such a range of different songs, which are catchy and easy to listen to, and have a lot of depth and meaning behind them.

Track: Lady Gaga – The Cure

Following my love for Gaga’s 2016 album – Joanne, her single The Cure didn’t fail to disappoint. The song was debuted at Coachella (in my opinion, one of Gaga’s best performances to date), and the meaning behind it – a tribute to her late friend – is portrayed in a somewhat upbeat, joyous way, making the song seem even more worthwhile.

Antonia Jones

Album: Paloma Faith – The Architect

Paloma has made a fantastic comeback with her diverse retro-soul sound on her new album The Architect. This has got to be one of my favourites featuring Crybaby, and as many would say Paloma Faith invites us to see the world through her eyes and her unique style yet again.

Track: Sam Smith – Too Good At Goodbyes (Galantis Remix)

When I first heard the original track I knew that somewhere in the pipeline a remix would be coming. Within a few weeks the Galantis remix was out and from that moment I knew Too Good At Goodbyes had to be my favourite single of the year – once you listen to the production you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Ben Simmons

Album: Ed Sheeran – Divide

It’s an obvious choice but I really enjoy every single song on this and in particular the lyrics.

Track: Clean Bandit feat Zara Larsson – Symphony

Another distinctive Clean Bandit offering with a brilliant hook. I liked it so much I taught myself to play it on the piano!

Bob Simpson

Album: Rag n Bone Man – Human

Released in February, Human contained the title track that had been a huge hit in 2016. Throughout this year Rag n Bone man has been a regular on the Phoenix FM A List with several tracks taken from the album all highly suitable for radio play.

With his very distinctive voice and these classy songs Rag n Bone Man should be around for many years to come. Not your typical manufactured pop star and a blessed relief from all those female nose singers around this year!

Track: Kasabian – You’re In Love With A Psycho

Just because it makes me laugh every time I hear it. Another track for Peter Kay’s Misheard Lyrics routine – “You’re In Love With A Cycle …”

Brian Ager

Album: Fireroad – Flesh Blood and Bone

If anyone had said to me that my favourite band, Dan Baird and Homemade Sin, and one of my all time music heroes, Robert Plant, both had new albums out and neither would be my album of the year, I would’ve laughed. That though, is what happened in 2017 when Fireroad, a little known band from Wales, released a wonderful album of pure rock music in June.

Full of great riffs and stories of the working man, it never lets up from the opening chords of Fall From The Skies to the anthem to Wales and Welsh people closing track All We Have. There are no filler tracks on this album, every song, all written by singer and rhythm guitarist Richard Jones, is powerful enough to stand on its own merits.

Ably supported by the rock solid rhythm section of Anthony Evans and Matthew Whitney, and fabulous lead guitarist Gavin Davis, the band have supported Stereophonics on several recent arena dates and have been gaining the recognition they deserve. What’s so special about the album is that the whole thing is self funded, and sounds absolutely huge. They have no right to sound this good, but they just do. If you’re a fan of Stereophonics or AC/DC, you’ll love this. Please buy it, it deserves a place in everyone’s record collection.

Track: Massive Wagons – Back To The Stack

Released in April this year, this track was both a charity single with all proceeds going to Teenage Cancer Trust, and a tribute to one of their main musical influences, the sadly departed Rick Parfitt of Status Quo. You can hear the spirit of Rick in the song, with the opening riffs reminiscent of Caroline.

It’s a fun song that just puts a great big smile on my face when I hear it. Another little known band building up a reputation as a great live act, they’ve just signed a record deal with Earache Records and a new album is due in Spring 2018. One to look forward to.

Charlie Davy

Album: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Who Built The Moon?

I’ve never been an album person as I’m not especially loyal to any particular artist/group. People whose songs I *really* like have also released some absolute pap. I’ll give honourable mentions to the Brothers Gallagher: Liam for “As You Were” – the singles thus far have been worthy of my money. Noel for “Who Built The Moon?” – being a kid of Brit-Pop and still seeing those 2 having bun-fights 20+ years later brightens up an otherwise dull day.

Track: Portugal. The Man – Feel It Still

It’s been a good year for songs, though. Honeyblood’s Walking At Midnight along with Kasabian’s Ill Rey, The King and Noel’s Holy Mountain are my runners-up to Feel It Still from Portugal. The Man. A bit more dancey than my usual taste, but perhaps a way of clinging onto my rapidly diminishing youth!

Chay Appleyard

Album: Gorillaz – Humanz

My decision may have swayed if Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Wolf Alice’s albums come out earlier, but this year I’ve gone for Humanz by Gorillaz. It has an all star cast with the likes of Vince Staples, Noel Gallagher, Pusha T, Grace Jones, Benjamin Clementine, and much more. It’s cohesive (which the best albums are), it’s humorous with skits, great concept of songs. Without doubt the best Gorillaz, arguably in my mind the best Damon Albarn has ever been a part of (Come at me!). Mr Albarn did say this album was based on “A party to celebrate the end of the world”. Politically charged. What I like about the Gorillaz in recent albums, it was good having the four characters as the musicians, but it seems as though now that the Gorillaz have lots of other friend, such as background or guest characters which appear on their songs now. By have this sheer amount of collaborations on these songs, it’s given the albums, and the band a new lease of life and probably a sense of longevity for years to come.

Track: The Big Moon – Pull The Other One

A couple of shout outs should be mentioned to Clean Bandit’s Symphony and that Havana song which has been stuck in my head for weeks now, but sticking to my guns I’m going with the Big Moon’s Pull The Other One. I love this band, I love the album, but along with their song Sucker, they have been my earworm of the year. Why? Well I’m gonna tell you. First of all, great basic chorus, simplistic but variations of the melody keeps it interesting. I love the usage of what I regard as “British-ism” such as the word ‘Settee’ which Juliette Jackson sings in the second verse. I like the indecisive nature of the lyrics, flippant personality, for example the lines “I might have other plans, it’s all out of my hands” and “Finally you’re here with me, will you stay the night, I’d like to let you stay the day but my schedules very tight”. As a songwriter, it’s a perfect indie pop song.

Chris Hood

Album: Iron Maiden – Book of Souls Live Chapter

I was really torn picking the album of the year, with the choice split between two live collections, with the excellent motion picture soundtrack of Pearl Jam’s Let’s Play Two highly recommended.

But, album of the year has to go to a band that I had the honour of seeing live this year and – shock horror – was actually disappointed with. However, this collection of live tracks from the Book of Souls tour goes some way to making up for the poor audio quality of the show I attended, with the boys on fine form playing a mixture of classics and material from the most recent studio album.

Needless to say I’m still going to see them in 2018!

Track: Dorja – Far Gone

Single of the year goes to a band who I have actually seen twice in 2017, the second gig of which was well worth paying £5 for a small can of beer – and that’s saying a lot!

Seriously, Dorja have got a massive 2018 coming up for them with their debut album currently expected to drop in the first half of the year, and this single is a perfect taster with a fabulously heavy riff, pounding bass and drums and soaring vocals. (Not to mention that it also got an exclusive first play on Phoenix FM).

If you get the chance, go and see this band in 2018, they are even better live. I’ll see you there…you’re buying!

Chris Stagg

Album: Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper

Mirror Reaper is a stunning 80 minute experiment from Seattle Doom Metalers, Bell Witch. This album is bitter sweet, serving as a grief stricken tribute to the bands late drummer, it is emotionally charged and at times you feel like you are being dragged down by the weight of their loss. But in that powerful emotion is its beauty, as Mirror Reaper takes you on a soundscape journey, that is atmospheric and has something new every time for those willing to listen closely. Powerful, emotional and completely heartfelt, Mirror Reaper must be experienced in its single track epic digital format.

Track: Jamiroquai – Automaton

For those who don’t know – I love the 90’s. In fact you can listen to my specialist 90s show on Phoenix FM every Thursday 6pm-8 (shameless plug). Jamiroquai were one of the monster bands for the greatest decade in music, and releases so late after a bands apparent peak are always a risk. Their track Automaton is a triumphant return to the thrown of the kings of disco, funk and on this track there is some beautiful Daft Punk-esque electronica too. A great track showcasing the band at their best with just enough nostalgia to keep long time fans happy.

Conor Knight

Album: Liam Gallagher – As You Were

A big return to form from the ex-Oasis frontman.

Track: Haim – Walking Away (Mura Masa remix)

It’s pretty rare to find a remix that matches the original tune in quality, addictivity and danceability, but Mura Masa has just done that with his reworking of Haim’s great single.

Courtney-Lee Collins

Album: Steps – Tears On The Dancefloor

This year my favourite album has got to be the long-awaited comeback album of one of my all time favourite bands, Steps. Tears On The Dancefloor is a collection of brand new songs by Lisa, Faye, Claire, Lee and H soon to be added to their hall of fame of their many hits of the past.

My favourite track from the album has to be the first single released, Scared Of The Dark. In my opinion it was the best song to kick off their return to the world of music; very reminiscent of their unforgettable style. I was also lucky enough to see them in concert recently and I have to say they were equally as fantastic there.

Track: Charlie Puth – How Long

As soon as I heard this song I was instantly drawn in to its catchy beat and I really loved the fact it is so easy to sing along to. This is just one song from his brand new album with more singles to come very soon. Another great hit from Charlie Puth and I can’t wait to see what else he comes up with in the next few years.

Gareth Williams

Album: Queens Of The Stone Age – Villains

It shouldn’t work – a pop producer with a penchant for cover versions working with a stoner rock band – but the second the beat kicks in in album opener Feet Don’t Fail Me and your feet start tapping along you can tell it does.

Lead single The Way You Used To Do should be seen as an indie dance floor classic already, and the rest of the album provides many high points. The guitars are present and correct, and some of the album feels as dark as previous offerings, but Mark Ronson’s production has allowed them to deliver one of their most coherent collections to date. With the Foos delivering their best album in years as well in 2017, the fact you can dance to Villains is probably what edged it for me.

Track: Bruno Major – Easily

In a year where rock music has unusually dominated my listening habits, it was a jazz guitarist from London that enchanted me most when I saw him live at Latitude Festival, and interviewed him for Phoenix FM. Added to the amazing guitar was a voice like Chet Baker, and the ability to write glorious romantic songs combining pop and jazz.

Easily is a simple romantic slice of that. Bruno and I also share a birthday, which he remembered when I saw him live in London in November, yes, ultra talented and a nice guy to boot. Honourable mentions for great singles this year to Nothing But Thieves and Tom Grennan.

Graham Stannard

Album: 1968 – Fortuna Havana

This has been a great year for me musically as it’s been the first in a while that I’ve discovered a lot of new artists, particularly in the Doom and Stoner rock and metal genres which I returned to. Many have been influential, especially Pallbearer and Windhand, but it was 1968 that introduced me to the wonderful scene here in the UK and through them I’ve met a lot of wonderful people and heard some amazing and powerful music. And indeed their live performances are fantastic.

So it seems natural to say that Fortuna Havana will be my album of the year, with Duchess a particular favourite. Another theme I picked up this year has been evocative song titles and that’s on the list. Special thanks once again must go to Yinka from Sabatta, as it was his gig with them that introduced me to them.

Track: Pallbearer – A Plea For Understanding

Their latest album Heartless has seen a natural progression to their sound, in fact literally as they’ve allowed more progressive rock influences to come to the surface. But there is still the underlying heaviness and a more advanced multi layered sound and Brett’s voice is continuing to evolve and blend so well with the music.

A Plea For Understanding I feel is the best example, with the signature journey through the song and the fantastic crescendos.

Jordan Gray

Album: Paloma Faith – The Architect
Track: Paloma Faith – Crybaby

Having gotten to know her a little bit during our stint on the telly (BBC’s The Voice last year), the subversive tone of the album represents everything I know to be true about the artist as a person. It feels important.

Kavus Torabi

Album: James Holden and the Animal Spirits – Animal Spirits

2017 has been a year of fantastic albums and I could perhaps have picked five but nothing has quite got under my skin as much as this ritualistic workout from James Holden with a live band. Cyclical, pulsating synths, propulsive drumming and ecstatic chants, this album has it all.

Track: Cheer-Accident – Immanence

More hypnotic, melancholic brilliance from the always inventive Cheer-Accident. The first time I heard this, I made straight for the piano in an attempt to write something nearly as beautiful.

Keith Rogers

Album: Dua Lipa – Dua Lipa

A great album with lyrical themes revolving around her personal views of love, rising above, sex, and self-empowerment.

Track: Clean Bandit feat Zara Larsson – Symphony

A dramatic ballad about someone who is in love and wants to be part of his/her “symphony”.

Matt Hines

Album: Liam Gallagher – As You Were

Okay okay. As a dyed-in-the-wool Britpop fanatic/victim I approached this album with a bit of trepidation, given Lian’s previous post-Oasis output, but I needn’t have worried! Big singalong tunes and the voice is back. As you were Liam. As you were.

Track: Baxter Dury – Miami

My oh my! Track of the year by a country mile. The sort of confident track that I would want as my own personal theme tune in real life. A gem of a track.

Mel Watson

Album: Ed Sheeran – Divide

This will for ever remind me of all the car journeys I have taken with my daughter this year as she has played it incessantly and I have to say the songs are very happy and vibrant and easy to sing along to. I am now living in Ed Sheeran country in the heart of Suffolk after all, which leads me on to the favourite song which is Castle On The Hill. I live very near to that same castle and the song is played everywhere. I remember when the video first came out and many of my friends were saying they could recognise places in the video and even people!

Michelle Ward

Album: Hempolics – Kiss Cuddle and Torture

A band that is on the rise and getting awesome reviews for their music. The band say it’s an infectious mash-up of Reggae, Electro, Hip-Hop, Soul, Rock and Pop – I say they’re right, it’s bloody good. Do yourself a favour and buy it.

Track: The Condriacs – Voices

The Essex Duo have managed to attract a big following from all over the world and their song Voices is a beautifully crafted track. The song was written for The Mental Health Foundation and featured on Channel 4 mental health awareness week. Voices gives a voice to those who suffer from mental health issues; listen to the lyrics and you will understand.

Mike Jones

Album: Stereophonics – Scream Above The Sounds

Difficult choice this year as there’s plenty to choose from. Loyalty me says Roger Waters but I didn’t like it; Late Night me says Yusuf Cat Stevens and Intrigued me says Passenger. But Playability me says this one.

Track: Harry Styles – Sign Of The Times

Easy choice. If you had told me two years ago that a reality star boyband product impressed you could have knocked me down with a feather. This Harry Styles’ release was anthemic, catchy, singalongable and just downright good. Easy. And then came Elbow’s Golden Slumbers and almost pipped him.

Mike Porter

Album: Rag ‘n’ Bone Man – Human
Track: Clean Bandit feat Zara Larsson – Symphony

I like the singer’s voice.

Naomi Hefford

Album: Jhené Aiko – Trip

She has an incredible voice and the songs she writes are beautiful.

Track: Ed Sheeran – Castle On The Hill

Slower and a grower. I always get this in my head when I drive past Horndon on the Hill!

Naomi Sayers

Album: Pete Tong with the Heritage Orchestra – Ibiza Classics

Following on from 2016’s Classic House, Tongy continues his orchestral arrangements of dance classics with more than a little help from the Heritage Orchestra and conductor Jules Buckley.

This time the likes of Massive Attack’s Unfinished Sympathy, Galvanize by The Chemical Brothers and Armand Van Helden’s You Don’t Know Me (with Craig David providing vocals) get the full orchestral treatment. There are also great re-imaginings of You’ve Got The Love” and Killer featuring original vocalists Candi Staton and Seal.

And there’s something about the power of the Heritage Orchestra combined with these classic dance tracks and the power of Pete Tong that just works! A perfect fusion of my two favourite genres – dance and classical music. I’m really glad we’ve been treated to this – and just in time for Christmas!

Track: Harry Styles – Sign Of The Times

I was prepared to dismiss the most hirsute Directioner’s solo debut without listening, but I’m really glad I didn’t as this is a belter of a ballad. The emotion he gets across gives me goose bumps and it somehow has a timeless feel that makes it seem like it was released years ago. And his voice is incredible on it too. And he’s one of the writers! The whole album is a really impressive debut and this is my favourite track from it. Well done Harry!

Nick Field

Album: Minus The Bear – Voids

First new album in five years from the psychadelic Seattle quintet, and they’ve lost none of their taste for atmospheric epics, while at the same time a sound that’s warm and inviting to the listener.

Track: Oh Wonder – High On Humas

Great life-affirming track with harmonies and real energy and a positive message.

Nigel Fitzmaurice

Album: Buckingham/McVie – Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie
Track: Buckingham/McVie – Feel About You

I came across this album earlier in the year – I am a big Fleetwood Mac fan, and these song epitomise them. It’s a carefully put together album and track 2 – Feel About You – is a winner and it was good to hear it get some radio airplay.

It’s a strange choice of album for me but although I love 70s and 80s soul and funk I love this album.

Nikki Mills

Album: Various Artists – Now That’s What I Call Music 98

You’ve got to love a compilation album! I always struggle to choose one single as my presenter pick as there are always at least 5 songs that I’ve loved over each year! But Now That’s What I Call Music 98 includes all the contenders such as Pink’s What About Us, Avicii ft Rita Ora’s Lonely Together and Dua Lipa’s New Rules, plus a few other bangers that I had forgotten about!

Track: Stormzy ft MNEK – Blinded By Your Grace Part 2

For my single it was a choice between Stay by Zedd ft Alessia Cara or Blinded By Your Grace. As much as I love the unique and catchy beat of Stay, I have to support Stormzy! As a fellow Christian myself, it makes me smile and proud that a song like Blinded By Your Grace is playing on commercial & community radio stations and being performed on TV. It’s so raw, honest and passionate and just clearly illuminates Stormzy’s love and gratitude towards his heavenly father!

Patrick Sherring

Album: Various Artists – The Shack

This is an album of music both from – and inspired by – the film The Shack. Though the film had limited showing in the UK, it was a commercial success in the USA, as was the album. With tracks from stars of modern country music and contemporary Christian music, this album stands on its own with many thoughtful and inspiring songs.

Track: Hillary Scott – Still

This track was released as a single from her solo album Love Remains. Hillary is the female lead singer of the country-rock band Lady Antebellum. This is a very personal track and reflects how faith helped her through intense personal difficulties.

Paul Golder

Album: Shed Seven – Instant Pleasures

Britpop was a big deal in my musical life of the 90s, although I tended to gravitate towards the art-pop of Blur, Pulp, Sleeper and Salad rather than the dadrock of Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene and erm, Shed Seven. So what made this album so great in 2017? While many older bands try to update their sound, this album still sounds like 1996. That could often be a criticism, but they’ve nailed everything about it – the production, the vocals, the guitars and the obligatory Britpop horn section.

And the songs are so damn catchy – even after a couple of plays I really thought most of them were Shed Seven tunes from first time round that I’d forgotten about. Great to see it bounce into the top 10 album charts too.

Track: Idles – Mother

An astonishingly powerful track mixing hardcore and art rock with a motorik beat. While this is a little bit heavier than my usual listening these days, Idles are the first band I’ve come across in years with a genuine anger and passion. Amazing live performances at Latitude and Standon Calling only enhances what they put on record too.

Rob Harvey

Album: Massive Ego – Beautiful Suicide

This album seemed to encapsulate the darker romantic side of music I didn’t realise I liked so much. It has some stunning remixes set along with a ton of greats songs, that sway in dark emotion and warm lyrical wit, dipped into political and social heart felt pros, wrapped in loads of pulsing anthemic melodies.

Track: Promenade Cinema – Spotlight

This duo seem to know exactly what I love in an electronic song, lots drama, sweeping melodies and stunning vocals, so with the track Spotlight’ it oddly spotlights all those epic flavours I like and more.

Scott Ross

Album: Ed Sheeran – Divide

With songs like Castle On The Hill, Galway Girl and his latest single release Perfect, the album is just pure genius.

Track: Robbie Williams – Mixed Signals

Just a great track which I could happily play over and over again.

Steve Davis

Album: Caterina Barbieri – Patterns Of Consciousness

I’ve recently bought a Modular Synthesiser and have been revisiting electronic masterpieces from the likes of Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze through to the recent work of Teleplasmiste and Oneohtrix Point Never. Aside from the excellent James Holden and Teleplasmiste releases. Catering Barbieri is a future masterpiece!

Track: Snapped Ankles – Johnny Guitar Calling Gosta Berlin

A marvellous slab of Krautrock-inspired dance music that we have had great fun with DJing live.

Steve Roach

Album: Elbow – The Best Of
Track: Elbow – Golden Slumbers

As much as I couldn’t care less about the advert, I do like this version – not quite the Beatles but still a decent cover!

Steve Robertson

Album: The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding

If I’m picking the album I’ve listened to most in 2017, it has to be the 4th album by the Philadelphia band. It’s an 80s sounding album with enough of a modern twist to keep me hooked. An ideal listen for a busy day.

Track: Spoon – Hot Thoughts

Another enjoyable single from the Texan band. The title track from their 9th studio album came out in January and after a year’s worth of new releases, this still remains my favourite single.

Tony Smith

Album: Stormzy – Gang Signs and Prayer

So many great albums released this year so it was a close one! I chose this just over Human by Rag n Bone Man.

Track: Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee feat Justin Bieber – Despacito (Remix)

Wow – 2017 was another great year of singles and albums. Apart from the stand out artists like Ed, Drake etc who dominated the charts with multiple chart entries, there was also some up and coming acts breaking through and looking to make a big mark on this year’s chart,

Dua Lipa had her first UK No 1 on her own and not just as a featured artist, as did Camila Cabello. Maggie Lindemann and Anne-Marie are also looking to score big next year and it was a great year for DJ Khalid also. But Despacito was the best commercial pop single of the year by a mile for me. Apart from it being a catchy tune it was the track of the summer along with projecting Luis Fonsi in to a household name (well, nearly).

Vic Damhar

Album: Sampha – Process

SSampha was named winner of this year’s Mercury Prize with his debut album Process, beating competition from the likes of The XX, Stormzy, Ed Sheeran, Alt-J, Blossoms, Dinosaur, Glass Animals, J Hus, Kate Tempest, Loyle Carner and The Big Moon.

This album exudes warmth and exceeds expectations with great compositions and lyrics throughout.

Having lost his mother during the recording of this album, Process take on a new meaning. Many of the songs contains themes of fear, death, solitude and heartbreak which is all successfully captured in his soulful voice and endearing production.

This is therapy for Sampha, and it’s none more apparent than on the heart stopping “(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano”

A quiet, contemplative piano ballad loaded with beauty and metaphor. This song describes a tale of finding himself at the bench of the piano that appears at his mother’s South London home when he was three years old, but it’s also a love letter to his mum.

Track: The XX – Say Something Loving

This track taken from their third studio album, “I See You” is one of the warmest tracks on The XX’s brightest and most joyous works to date.

Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim are delightfully powerful and harmonised with Jamie Smith’s work beneath, continues with the deployment of a vocal sample from The Alessi Brothers’ Do You Feel It.

Xanthe Bearman

Album: Sheridan Smith – Sheridan: The Album

I fell in love with this talented woman when I saw her in Legally Blonde in the West End. An incredible actress (Cilla, The C Word, The Moorside) and musical theatre star (Little Shop of Horrors, Funny Girl), she commented “It has been an ambition since a child to record my own album so I’m incredibly excited to be recording some of my favourite songs”. The album is full of recognisable musical medleys and I especially love her version of La La Land’s City of Stars.

Track: Harry Styles – Sign Of The Times

The lead single from his debut solo album which went straight to number 1. Rolling Stone commented “his sheer brazen confidence is dazzling” – I agree, I loved the song and the album.

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