New artist of the week: Charlotte Day Wilson
Plus, songs you have to hear from Seinabo Sey and ZHU featuring Tame Impala
Charlotte Day Wilson’s voice is a soulful gentle thing, able to let you in and let you down easy
What: Alternative R&B singer
Why: It starts, like many great artists, with the voice. For a while, Charlotte Day Wilson was mainly found on the records of others, with BadBadNotGood, Daniel Caesar, River Tiber and with her former band, the little-known R&B quintet the Wayo.
CDW, the self-initialled 2016 EP introduced a solo singer who had a voice made for singing about heartache and pain. Wilson’s velveteen voice has been compared to Rhye’s Mike Milosh, and both singers occupy the same register and melodic territory. Wilson sounds a lot like Sade and Jessie Ware and occupies a similar adult contemporary R&B space. She’s more than the voice too, and often produces and plays on each track.
On the Canadian’s latest release, the EP Stone Woman, she utilises the voice to sing chronologically about a relationship heading towards break-up, in a way that makes the debut EP sounds positively exuberant by comparison.
To either downbeat jazz chords or ambient R&B blues backing, Wilson shines as the keeper of a flame, a torch-bearer for music of a timeless nature. She worries that she’ll only disappoint on the key-change-featuring Let You Down. Stone Woman finds her suspended in stirring strings and twinkling notes. Falling Apart is lullaby funk that leads to Funeral, the denouement of the aforementioned relationship.
Wilson’s voice is a soulful gentle thing, able to let you in and let you down easy. “Anytime I think of you I’m empty-hearted,” she sings on Funeral, in a way that’s dually crushing and comforting.
You have to hear this... Seinabo Sey - I Owe You Nothing
The Swedish-Gambian artist’s first song in three years is an empowering low-slung track about not bowing to the pressure or demands of others. “I don’t have to walk for you / I don’t have to talk to you / See, I’m not on display / Never was, never will ever be for you,” Sey sings.
Rather than go for the righteous anger of Caught Out There, the Kelis song that inspired it, Sey goes high with some gospel choir backing vocals only succumbing to the low via deep sub-bass.
You have to hear this... ZHU featuring Tame Impala - My Life
Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker knows his value as a vocalist over songs which bend, billow and float beneath his soft-edged timbre. It’s a technique he employed to great effect on his breakthrough album 2015 album Currents. On this latest collaboration with the Chinese American dance producer ZHU, Parker adds a smudged psychedelic quality to this metronomic synth stomper.