Musical Discovery: ‘Night Bus’ by Gabrielle Aplin

We’ve all been there: a rainy car journey or an early train ride and we picture ourselves in a music video or black-and-white movie with sad, upsetting undertones. For Gabrielle Aplin, however – known for her 2012 cover of The Power of Love by Frankie Goes to Hollywood – a bus ride home is the focal point for a track from her EP, Miss You.

A bouncy 6/8 beat is at the heart of Night Bus, which, when combined with a triplet synth melody, only adds to the reflective and heavenly vibe Aplin always manages to create with her soft vocals. When analysed alongside Miss You, both use electronica to heighten their tone. There’s no doubt that this injects some positivity into this particular song, but not enough to detract from the bittersweet meaning of the track itself – that on the way home, the singer is considering ending a relationship.

To throw Night Bus into the ‘generic breakup song’ category would be a terrible mistake. Throughout, the lyrics are wonderfully imaginative and take the us back to a reflective journey on public transport which we have all experienced. The second verse, complete with descriptions of dazed and complacent reflections and lovers that hide from the cold white light, paints the perfect picture of the bus ride. Whilst the setting may be simplistic, the adjectives and the individual’s thought process makes this an honest and open track from Aplin.

As the lyrics float around the fluttering rhythm perfectly, it’s likely that the beat is the more distinctive part of the track, emboldening and placing emphasis upon Gabrielle’s reflective vocals. From her electro-heavy EP Miss YouNight Bus is a blissfully relatable and heartfelt song from the 24-year-old artist.

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Musical Discovery: ‘Waking Up Slow’ by Gabrielle Aplin

Gabrielle Aplin has fully embraced an electronic pop sound, and I for one am completely happy with that decision. The Please Don’t Say You Love Me singer made the switch on her Miss You EP, with the song Night Bus and the title track both offering fluttering synths. Now, with Waking Up Slow, Aplin is squeezing out the last little bits of summer with a euphoric, fuzzy hit from her upcoming release, Avalon.

It’s a track full of blissful harmonies, one of the most beautiful being in the pre-chorus in the lines: you know I’ve never/been so lonely on my own. Yet again, whilst poppy instrumentals bubble in the background, Gabrielle’s vocals remain pure, soft and smooth. Calm in the verses and then jubilant in the chorus, it’s a slow build-up towards an upbeat chorus.

There’s no denying that it’s a positive song to listen to – and that’s without the knowledge that Aplin has described this song as an ‘a-ha moment’. Much like Miss You, the song is an open letter to a mysterious lover and whilst the aforementioned track sees the singer talk wanting to resume a relationship, this one is a lot more upbeat, with the lyric: when I’m with you/it’s like everything glows proving that this is a warm, summer track to dance to.

Following on from the hit that was Miss You, one wonders if more electronic music is to come from Gabrielle when Avalon drops on 15 September.

Musical Discovery: ‘Caught Up’ by Sarah Close

There’s something reminiscent of Natasha Bedingfield and Eliza Doolittle in Sarah Close’s voice. Soft and sweet vocals are something her 754,000 YouTube subscribers (more or less) have been treated to for many years now. However, it was last week that the 21-year-old singer-songwriter released her debut EP – which includes the title track, Caught Up.

Jumpy synth chords and double-bass drums introduce the track, setting the perfect, bouncy rhythm to accompany Sarah’s fast-paced, rap-like vocals. With each line having its own speed (take the slowed down tick, tick, tick and the opening line, I’m dressed like a beauty queen, for example), listeners are entertained and intrigued right up to the chorus, which adopts a softer approach.

It’s almost as if the flowing verses see Sarah air her frustrations and annoyance at the partner, whilst the delicate chorus sounds more curious and intrigued, with nothing more than light synths accompanying the first refrain. On the second occasion, piano and drums heighten this emotion and upbeat feel. It has the traditional vibe of the pop genre from the noughties, with modern synths bringing the track up-to-date.

With Close already receiving Radio 1 airplay with her track, Call Me Out (also on the debut EP), it looks likely that this fun and upbeat pop track will also reach similar levels of success for Sarah in the future.

Musical Discovery: ‘Fools’ by Lauren Aquilina

Lauren Aquilina is a name I’ve often seen mentioned in tweets on Twitter or elsewhere online, but I never thought to listen to her music – until now. With a humble, warm singer-songwriter sound similar to that of Gabrielle Aplin, I was disappointed that I hadn’t listened to one of her earlier tracks, Fools, sooner.

There’s something about Lauren’s vocals that leads to you imagining yourself lying down on a deckchair listening to this track, or standing watching her perform it in a festival environment. It’s that mellow style of music which calms those who listens to it, rather than boring them.

With light piano melodies and bouncy bass riffs to begin with, the instrumentals are there purely for rhythmic purposes. The emphasis is truly placed on Aquilina’s voice, which is equally as soft. Although timid, that is not to say that it lacks power. Atmospheric drums build the tone for the chorus, telling the listener to pay attention. They are rewarded with occasional high notes and pure soul to add to a relaxing song. If pop’s white noise becomes too much, then the calming voice of Lauren Aquilina is the perfect alternative.

After looking more into Lauren’s music, I saw that she released her debut album, Isn’t it Strange? in 2016. Now follows the excitement that comes with discovering a new artist: I can now continue to discover more of their great music. I look forward to listening to the album in the future.

 

Musical Discovery: ‘Miss You’ by Gabrielle Aplin

A young musician walks on to the Acoustic Stage at Glastonbury. Guitar in hand, it’s a usual sight at music festivals, so the focus shifts from the guitar to the voice. For Gabrielle Aplin, her shy, soft vocals intertwine with light piano chords and fluttering guitar riffs. An appearance on a John Lewis advert plus a solid debut album, English Rain, defined her style as calm, upbeat folk. Yet now, her latest single, Miss You, sees her break away from the world of folk, dabbling into the mainstream and overpopulated world of dance music.

Is this Aplin succumbing to the latest musical trends in order to gain more listeners? Hopefully not. Although, the world of synth heavy dance/club music is dominated by the likes of the soulful Becky Hill or the sassy Zara Larsson. The genre is over-saturated with generic or powerful vocals, because that’s what pop music tends to demand. Beautifully smooth and mellow, Gabrielle’s tone isn’t something we usually hear in this genre. Miss You may detract from her earlier work, but it’s a successful move for the Panic Cord singer.

At first, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s another traditional song from Aplin – a brief piano melody having the possibility of fooling some listeners. That is, until off-beat synth chords and a bouncy drum beat are introduced alongside Gabrielle’s vocals. Throughout the track, the lyrics fluctuate around the single’s distinctive rhythm. It’s when the line And I won’t let go oh (or its variant, And I won’t let go again) matches the staccato synth chords in the chorus that Aplin’s emotion is truly emphasised.

Whilst the style is different, once again, the focus has always been on Gabrielle Aplin’s unique vocal style, which remains emotive and unchanged even when the singer tries out a new musical genre. Miss You is a risky move by the artist, but one perfectly and cleverly executed.