Close your eyes and just listen to this voice – whatever images it conjures, I suspect your mind won’t conjure up a 21-year-old kid from the Yorkshire Dales. Spectacularly, the Island-signed John Newman looks almost pre-pubescent, but sounds like a Motown singer, possessing an incredible voice laden with raw soul and world-weary experience; a voice that carries genuine weight. It’s a disarming sight, seeing a voice like that emerge from Newman’s baby-face.
There’s a lot more to Newman than just the cliched “white singer sounds black” headline though – “Cheating” is a aching, beautiful song (rest assured, there are more where that came from) that he sings the hell out of, and he’s already scored a UK number one hit as the vocalist on Rudimental‘s brilliant “Feel The Love”, which topped the charts last week. I genuinely can’t wait to hear more music from this young man.
One last thought: Island Records’ roster of potentially next-to-blow homegrown vocalists is so weighty – they’ve got Angel, Cleo Sol, Josh Osho, John Newman, Jessie Ware and Jess Mills not to mention the worldwide superstar likes of Florence and the Machine and the late Amy Winehouse. No one team should have all that power.