Stu Rawle is a name we might be hearing on an increasing number of lips in coming times, certainly if he can build on his potent and seriously engaging debut EP, Portland Pill. The release is a soulful three track shuffle bred from the British singer/songwriter’s individual electro acoustic/funk lined sound. It has an easily accessible character, hinting as to why Rawle’s music has lured names such as Ed Sheeran and Bon Iver when describing his sound. He has also been called the modern male equivalent to KT Tunstall but equally there is a uniqueness to his songs which, as shown by this first EP, increasingly sparks attention.
Originally hailing from East Anglia and now based in the Mile End, East London, Rawle has become an eagerly followed and praised live presence on the capital’s live scene. TV channel, London Live and local radio stations, have shown keen interest in and played his tracks to back up successful shows across venues such as the Troubadour and O2 Academy. Now the man is looking at stirring up his most successful year yet with the Portland Pill EP; national attention his next aim.
The EP’s title track is first up to caress ears, it a song written back in 2013 and themed by “nostalgia and the growing complexities and pressures of young adulthood.” With its title inspired by Rawle’s own memories of Portland Bill in Dorset, where he spent numerous enjoyable times in his childhood, the song reflects on those imagination inspiring escapes we all have experienced at some time and temper times of pressure and intensity in life. Musically Portland Pill lays out an inviting melodic canvas for thoughts to swing across on a catchiness which swiftly has ears caught. Its body has a gentle sway and swell to it, like tender waves lapping the senses as the guitar courts the resonance of bass and crisp beats, and subsequently the emergence of floating harmonies and crawling keys.
In quick time feet and emotions are bounding along with the increasingly infectious and lively stroll of the song, a potent lure which is as ripe in the electronic and emotional reflection of Lightspeed too. The track was sparked by the death of Rawle’s grandfather, who suffered from Alzheimer’s. From the start Rawle’s emotive tones are immersed in electro smog, almost fighting to make their voice heard in a reflection of his grandfather’s inner suffering from the illness. Mesmeric and richly evocative, the lyrical perspective of the song and its imagination provide a gripping and powerful incitement for ears and thoughts, which in turn only offers greater insight into the talent and potential brewing within the artist.
Closing track is In Hindsight, an acoustic/electro pop tempting with bold energy and a flirtatious nature in sound. It quickly shows an enticing jazziness to its opening funk seeded swagger, a tenacious touch which is matched in appeal by the broody rising of shadows and their strings like enterprise. They simply court the imagination, adding another layer to the track’s provocative and feisty revelry where a great use of textures adds to the potency of sound around the ever impressing voice and expressive delivery of Rawle.
The first listen of the Portland Pill EP earned an appreciative nod, second and third a thicker want to know more, and fair to say from thereon in, the release and especially Lightspeed just continued to blossom with matching enjoyment. That name again which you might be hearing a lot of in the future? Stu Rawle.
The Portland Pill EP is out now on iTunes.
Pete RingMaster 29/02/2016
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