#NewMusicFriday: ‘Always In Between’ by Jess Glynne

Although diverse and wide-ranging, the Hold My Hand singer’s sophomore release is generic, pandering pop which for the most part lacks impact and distinction – ★★★

There was something promising about Always In Between. With just under half of the tracklist for Glynne’s debut being taken up by singles we’d heard before, the new sounds of I Cry When I Laugh were overshadowed by the déjà vu of the old. Her follow-up was destined to be fresh, unheard of and a continued exploration of new directions for the London musician, yet the end result was a lot more underwhelming.

Alexis Petridis of The Guardian sums up the mediocre nature of the album well in his review. The second album should always offer a sense of progression, which Always In Between offers, albeit through the popular vocal styles and musical genres of the day. There’s ballads such as Insecurities for the Adele fans, while Never Let Me Go blends the Sheeran-esque guitar melodies with the harsh trap which has been dominating pop music lately.

Once again, it’s the singles which pack the punch on the record. Hit-makers Rudimental make These Days a vibrant summer jam, while talented singer-songwriter Frances lends a helping hand on the stripped-back pop track All I Am. 123 has a sense of soulful familiarity to it that we’ve probably heard before, while I’ll Be There has hard-hitting drums and catchy yodel-like vocals. The final single, Thursday – released a day before the album – is a refreshing, soft track away from the usual vibrant, loud sounds.

Glynne’s portfolio of hits is testament that there’s a winning formula there somewhere working with a phenomenal voice, yet Always In Between lets this descend to a point of disappointing blandness. It’s a comfortable background listen, but for a voice like Glynne’s, it should be one which commands your attention.

Always In Between is available now.

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The secret’s out: I met Jess Glynne at the top of The Shard

So last month, I got the train into London, expecting to share my thoughts in a BBC Music focus group. A few days before, the venue was confirmed as being The Shard, but little did I know that when I entered the lift to the top floor, Rather Be singer Jess Glynne would be waiting to surprise us.

Liam and Jess Glynne
Shortly after the surprise, we were able to grab a quick photo, of course!
Earlier this year, whilst browsing Twitter I came across a call for young people to take part in a focus group. As someone who obviously loves their music, I had to get involved. At first, I was told that I had not been selected, but then a phone call from a BBC staff member a few months later confirmed that there was still an opportunity which I could get involved in. Of course, I said yes.

This then ended up with me visiting The Shard, where we were greeted by other participants and ask to complete a bit of paperwork. After that, small groups of around four people were taken away with a BBC staff member. When I was picked to go with the next group, we were escorted to the nearest lift where we would go up to the top floor.

Whilst waiting, let’s just say that the ‘lift music’ was interesting. Our group noticed the GoPros mounted on the walls, and heard Hold My Hand playing. However, I realised that it wasn’t the studio version – almost an instrumental. It was only when the doors opened that right in front of me was the singer herself, Jess Glynne, standing in front of me.

Whilst waiting for other groups to be surprised by Jess Glynne, we had the chance to take in the beautiful view from The Shard.
The surprise, private performance was organised by BBC Music for a BBC iPlayer/CBBC series called ‘Lift Music‘, where “unsuspecting members of the public step into a lift, completely unaware that when the doors re-open, they’ll be walking in to an exclusive performance by their favourite artist”. Whilst I was able to meet Jess Glynne, other lucky individuals got to meet Craig David and The Vamps.

You can watch the episode in which I appear here. I will also be on CBBC on Thursday 21 July at 8pm.

Once again, I have to say thank you so much to the team at BBC Music who offered me this amazing opportunity. It was great to meet some other fans to have a chat, go up The Shard and of course, meet the wonderful Jess Glynne. It was an amazing day, and now I can tell you all about it.

Have you ever met a celebrity or somebody famous? How did you meet them? Comment below!

Liam

Musical Discovery: ‘Kill the Lights’ by Alex Newell, Jess Glynne & DJ Cassidy (with Nile Rodgers) [Audien Remix]

With so many people contributing towards a single track, you can tell that Kill the Lights will be great even before listening to it. In this case, it’s great to see Nile Rodgers return to another dance track, Jess Glynne try something a bit more funky (rather than her usual R&B and pop) and Alex Newell offer her uplifting and cheerful soul. But now, American DJ Audien has built upon the original single – turning it into an electronic-funk floor-filler.

As with any remix which catches my attention, I often go back to the original. In this case, I couldn’t help but feel like the main version of Kill the Lights was too ‘busy’ – particularly towards the end of the song. Whilst I love the underlying guitar and 60’s funk vibe, I couldn’t help but feel like the drums, vocals and guitar all became too loud in the chorus. Thankfully, Audien’s remix keeps hold of this groovy style whilst stripping away all of this unnecessary ‘white noise’.

To start with, Audien nods to the original by beginning with the main guitar riff which runs throughout DJ Cassidy’s version. The track then develops from just vocals and a creative, deep house synth to include colourful piano chords and a driving drum beat. If the original song was made as a retro track for discos, then Audien’s remix is the refreshing version for nightclub playlists.

What do you think of Audien’s remix of Kill the Lights? Is it better than the original? Comment below!

Liam

Musical Discovery: ‘Take Me Home’ by Jess Glynne

Last week, Adele returned with Hello – a track with mellow piano chords and pure soul. Now, it seems as though other artists are keen to follow suit. One of the latest singers to release a soulful single is Jess Glynne, with Take Me Home.

For a while, Jess’ songs have all been the usual upbeat track similar to her debut track with Clean Bandit – Rather Be. After that, Real LoveHold My HandRight Here and Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself all continued the vibrant, upbeat pop style. But now, Jess Glynne has leant her vocals to a song with a more sombre tone, with Take Me Home being revealed as being this year’s official Children in Need single.

Upon listening to the track, there’s certainly some similarities in both the song and the music video. From the first few seconds there’s light piano chords which are like the opening chords to Hello by Adele. Then, in terms of the melody and the video, both can be seen as being similar to Jessie J’s Who You Are, especially when Jessie and Jess both share a similar vocal range.

Then, with simple piano chords and a relaxed drum beat, it’s these vocals which really make the song unique. The chorus contains emotive lyrics and a memory melody. Whilst the piano melody and drum beat remain uniform throughout the song, the pace of Jess’ vocals varies throughout the song. It is this creativity which really add the emotion to this song.

On a separate note, it is also the music video which really adds to the mood of the song. Both audio and visual work together to create something different for the singer.

What do you think of this track? Comment below!

Liam

Musical Discovery: Jess Glynne, Example and Twenty-One Pilots!

Last week saw me discover some great new music. Through tweets by BBC Radio 1 and V Festival, I stumbled across the latest track by Jess Glynne. Then, on YouTube, I noticed that Example has a new song out too. Lastly, when YouTuber Carrie Hope Fletcher uploaded a cover of House of Gold, I was able to find the original version by Twenty-One Pilots.

So without further ado, here are this week’s three Musical Discoveries!

Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself by Jess Glynne

The latest release by Jess Glynne, Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself, follows a string of successful chart hits. These include collaborations with Clean Bandit (Rather Be and Real Love) as well as tracks such as Right Here, My Love and the recent release, Hold My Hand.

With the track containing vibrant piano chords and a soulful final verse, fans of Glynne would be right that the track has a colourful and emotive feel similar to that of Hold My Hand, and the style of Clean Bandit.

Overall, it’s another great track from the singer. The track is well developed, allowing Jess to show off her vocal talents, and then, the song ends well with a laid-back version of the song’s recognisable chorus. It looks set to be a number one hit when it is released in August.

On a separate note, the music video fits well with the track. As a drummer myself, it was fair to say that it was fun to watch!

Whisky Story by Example

After his 2014 album, Live Life Living, musician Example (real name Elliot Gleave) is back with a new track called Whisky Story, which contains a new style of music for the artist known for floor-fillers.

Beginning with soulful vocals which don’t sound like Example’s, the track’s opening is likely to surprise fans expectant of a powerful and driving dance beat which appears in tracks such as Won’t Go Quietly, Kickstarts and Kids Again.

However, Whisky Story contains a clever balance of rapping and singing in its verses to appeal to fans. Both vocal styles seem to fit in perfectly with the bass guitar riff and drum beat. Then the verses slowly, but effectively, fade into the track’s chorus.

But whilst the chorus is catchy and memorable, the latest track from Example’s upcoming album is disappointing, with the opportunity to dance to a deep bass groove only becoming available towards the end of the song.

House of Gold by Twenty-One Pilots

In the past, I’ve only ever listened to country tracks when I stumbled across Train’s Drive By and Hey Soul Sister a few years ago. Now, I was able to find a track with similar, upbeat ukulele melodies – House of Gold by Twenty-One Pilots.

Straight away the song begins with a colourful ukulele introduction alongside the song’s simplistic but catchy chorus. Shortly afterwards, a second ukulele is added which makes the chorus just as memorable.

Another part of the song which also makes it memorable is the melody which flows through the song throughout. As well as this, the track is cleverly developed as the song progresses. In particular, a driving drum beat is introduced early on in the track, before turning into an off-beat rhythm towards the end.

As for the ending itself, the rather laid-back conclusion to the song is fitting. However, that is not to say that the song does not have some issues or surprises. The screaming of the lyrics “become someone” is a bit unexpected for a country song. Lastly, the ending melody also feels unusual, with the final note feeling unsatisfactory in my opinion.

What do you think of these three tracks? Which is your favourite? Comment below!

Liam

Musical Discovery: ‘Hold My Hand’ by Jess Glynne

Jess Glynne has already made a name for herself after her involvement in massive number one singles from 2014. Collaborations such as My Love (with Route 94) as well as her work with Clean Bandit all showcase Glynne’s talent.

The song begins with a piano riff that changes throughout the song to end with a style similar to the upbeat chords used by Clean Bandit.

Then it isn’t long before Jess Glynne introduces her lyrics. The verses include fast-paced vocals combined with a chant-like style. This then develops into a dance/house feel as the song builds into a chorus that is perfect for Glynne to showcase her soul.

Although unlike the groovy style of Right Here, the track has the same soul, but with a fresh upbeat groove on the side.

What do you think of the track? Comment below!

Liam

Musical Discovery: ‘Real Love’ by Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne

Real Love is the second collaboration between Clean Bandit and Jess Glynne. As predicted, it does not disappoint!

Immediately the song starts with the soulful vocals of Glynne that works so well with a variety of different musical genres. Then, with the addition of a light-hearted piano riff, listeners know that this single will be another feel-good track that follows in the footsteps of Rather Be.

Despite the song continuing with a weird tempo at first, the song then descends into the dance side of the perfect orchestral-dance balance. The chorus contains brilliant layers of electronic dance that add together to make a memorable chorus.

Then the song allows for Jess Glynne’s solo, which is another chance for the artist to showcase the versatile soul that gives her vocals a unique feel. This song is a brilliant collaboration once more between the two artists, which is likely to reach the same, if not greater, success as Rather Be.

What do you think of the single? Do you think it is as good as Rather Be? Comment below!

Liam