05) Catherine McGrath: One
23rd December 2016 saw Northern Ireland’s very own Catherine McGrath make her debut on the music scene with the exquisite One EP. Signed to Warner Music, this impeccable release compromised of 4 tantalising tracks. Three being original compositions and the other being her own interpretation of Jessie Ware’s Say You Love Me.
McGrath is a rising country star who’s already supported the likes of Cam, Kelsea Ballerini, The Shires, Picture This, Una Healy, Dan + Shay plus she’s also played a spate of festivals. Also Catherine has two headline shows lined up at The Camden Assembly in March and Bush Hall in the April.
It was love at first listen, One is a glorious country pop record which left me with the desire to hear more from Catherine in the nearby future. The whole acoustic feel resulted in something pleasent on the ear, McGrath’s whimsical vocals were sugary sweet and her song writing skills were out of this word. Hell Would Have To Freeze Over was a hypnotising tune drenched in plenty of heartbreak (I adored the punchy chorus), the dreamy Cinderella had similarities to Taylor Swift’s Love Story and the pacey She’ll Never Love You had tinges of emotion. To round things off you had Catherine’s interpretation of Jessie Ware’s Say You Love Me and I found this to be incredibly refreshing.
FAVOURITE TRACK: Picking out just one track is a hard task as they’re all phenomenal. With the amount of times I’ve witnessed Catherine McGrath perform live over the year I have grown to love every single original. But I would have to say my highlight had to be CINDERELLA. This was a beautiful tune which gave the Cinderella fairy tale a 2016 update. Just listening to this lucious song leaves leaves me with a feeling of warmth. Actually I cannot help but smile and Catherine’s vocals left me well and truly entranced.
It actually reminds me of Taylor Swift’s Love Story as that number told the story of Romeo and Juliet. McGrath actually wrote this number with Liz Rose (Liz is a tremendous song writer who’s responsible for Taylor Swift’s early material)
04) Grace Blue: Grace Blue
Grace Blue are an exciting pop duo comprimising of Grace Mogz and keyboard player Joseph Arazi. They met in their hometown of Tel-aviv, Israel and now they’re based in Los Angeles. It was a recommendation which brought Grace Blue to my attention, it was the lead single Our Eyes which caught my ear.
This exquisite self titled EP was unveiled towards the end of July and it featured 5 glittering originals. I’ve got nothing but praise for this exquisite EP, each track was a polished piece of perfection and Grace’s stunning vocals had me picturing both Lana Del Rey and Florence Welch.
I found this superb self tilted record to be an enthralling effort. Each original was a blissful masterpiece and they literally transported me to another dimension. Mogz’s vibrant were so sweet which had me smiling from beginning till end.
FAVOURITE TRACK: Picking a favourite number from this impeccable EP is a tough task as I adore the 5 featured originals. The sleek Wasted Youth was incredibly mesmerising, the upbeat Our Eyes oozed plenty of pop goodness and I found Second Guess to be enchanting.
The two originals that caught my attention were Nowhere To Go and Fix Itself. Both of which are incredibly hypnotising and at the same time they oozed plenty of synthy goodness. At the time of writing it’s the spellbinding FIX ITSELF which had the slight upper hand.
03) Kayla Diamond: Beautiful Chaos
24th November saw Kayla Diamond release her debut EP Beautiful Chaos via Cadence Music. She actually intended to become a lawyer but in 2015 she won Slaight Music’s It’s Your Shot Contest with her original Crazy. This resulted in her landing a recording contract with Cadence Music.
Including this exhilarating EP in my annual top 10 was a no brainer. Beautiful Chaos spawned the singles Carnival Hearts, Young Stupid Love and most recently What You’re Made Of. This captivating 6 track effort was smothered in plenty of pop goodness and each original is literally a work of art. Everything about Beautiful Chaos was top notch, Diamond’s dazzling vocals enchanted me and her songwriting abilities were out of this world. Carnival Hearts was sugary pop with a sassy upbeat chorus, America’s Sweetheart was so enchanting, What You’re Made Of conveyed the message that you shouldn’t give up your dreams, All On Me was breathtaking with lyrics detailing a relationship deterioration, Young Stupid Love was an anthem in the making and then you had the mesmerising Crazy.
FAVOURITE TRACK: Whilst I adored each original, my favourite had to be WHAT YOU’RE MADE OF. What gave this track the edge was the uplifting message to never give up on your dreams and to show them What You’re Made Of.
02) Michaela May: Rogue
9th June saw singer/ songwriter Michaela May unveil her debut EP Rogue via her very own label iKON Records. This glittering release comprimised of 6 tantalising tunes, 4 of which have been given the single treatment.
Anyhow Michaela is a sassy Scottish songbird who now calls Toronto, Ontario home. Now May came to my attention January 2016 after I became hooked on the empowering anthem 1954. Everything about that number was on point and those catchy lyrics hit me like a full on force. Since then she’s gone to release Lights Out and You & I which are both mesmerising synth pop gems and last month Michaela dropped a music video for Loveaholic.
Rogue oozed plenty of bubble gum pop vibes and each number has been written to perfection. I could quite easily stick this exquisite EP on constant repeat. Also the likes of Lights Out and You & I left me with a huge smile on my face. Also during You & I you had an epic sax solo. I’ll always have a fondness for 1954 and Loveholic was a R&B tinged jam. Sapiosexual was a futuristic electro pop gem aided by vibrant vocals and a glitzy upbeat chorus which packed a punch (now for those who don’t know, someone who is Sapiosexual finds intelligence sexually attractive or arousing).
FAVOURITE TRACK: This was a stunning mini album and I literally cannot wait to hear what Michaela May releases in 2018. Each tune uplifts my spirits plus Rogue left me smiling from beginning to end. May’s wonderful vocal tones were sugary sweet which leaves me in an utter trance. The singles released were utter masterpieces but the one cut which has the slight edge was the spellbinding LOST. Those lyrics were pure perfection and extremely addictive at the same time.
01) Kris Angelis: Heartbreak Is Contagious
All the way from Los Angeles you have the impeccable singer/ songwriter Kris Angelis. She first made her emergence way back in 2013 with independently released LP The Left Atrium. Now that dazzling debut was a mixture of folk meets pop meets country.
Four years later she’s back with her first ever EP and this being Heartbreak Is Contagious. This sensational record comprimised of 4 tantalising tunes all of which being uber contagious. If you have a good browse through Kris’s YouTube page you’ll notice acoustic versions of 3 of these tunes (Life Support in 2015 and Heartbreak Is Contagious/ Built This House in 2016).
I’ve got nothing but praise for this charming record. Angelis’s vocals were sugary sweet and her lyricism was sheer genius. The enchanting Heartbreak Is Contagious opened things up and the lyric explored what happens when love ends in pain. Despite the lyrics being drenched in emotion I couldn’t help but smile to Kris’s bright and breezy vocal tones. Built This House was an emotional ballad aided by crisp vocals, compelling lyrics and an epic chorus which emitted plenty of pop goodness. Life Support was a mixture of both emotion and joy. This dreamy tune revolved around a girl whose been placed on life support. You may think how can something be joyful if the girl’s been placed on life support. Well the lyrics tell you that this girl is a fighter and wants to live her life to the fullest when she awakes from a coma. Then ending this EP came to a close with the upbeat Kevin Bacon. This fun fueled anthem pays tribute to the act of falling in love.
The Heartbreak Is Contagious topped my countdown because A) each of the 4 delectable tracks were extremely addictive B) There is a candy coated fluffiness to Kris Angelis’s vocal tones and C) Just listening to each breezy original uplifted me and left me grinning until the very end. Finally Kris Angelis is incredibly humble and is grateful for every shred of support she receives.
FAVOURITE TRACK: Now I’m in love with each of the 4 originals but it’s LIFE SUPPORT which had the slight edge. Those story telling lyrics were so beautiful and if you visit Kris’s YouTube page you’ll come across a collaboration with twin sister Alix Angelis (Alix’s heavenly harmonies infused to Kris’s vocals perfectly).