Two of the most respected events in the British music calendar are upon us. The Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize and MOBO (Music of Black Origin) Awards offer a chance to celebrate the best and most unique albums and artists of the year. They provide a great opportunity to reflect on some of the best music and introduce new talent, including some seriously strong female singer/songwriters.
The Mercury Music Prize
The Mercury Music Prize for the best album of 2012 is announced this Thursday. The event brings together some of the most revered power-players and performers from across the industry. Lauren Laverne hosts the event and guide the audience through an evening of live music and highlights from this year’s shortlisted artists. Meanwhile, tucked away in a room somewhere, a select panel of industry professionals debate furiously over who should take the prize. This ‘peer review’ is what gives the award its status as one of the most respected accolades a British artist/s can receive.
The prize is notoriously hard to get, only PJ Harvey has managed it twice when she took the award for her eighth album Let England Shake in 2011. I was no mean feat considering last year’s shortlist included an incredibly diverse range of artists and tighter than ever competition.
This year’s shortlist reflects a year of indie bands and electronic influences. The favourites to scoop the award are art rockers ∆ (Alt-J) with their debut An Awesome Wave. Female artists add glimpses of variety and soul to a shortlist that has been criticised by some for being too ‘safe’:
Jessie released her debut LP Devotion in August to rave reviews. Probably the best-known track ‘110%’, highlights her earlier contributions to dance music, an influence which runs through the whole LP to varying degrees. This new take to a soulful and serene sound gives Jessie an edge and makes her work distinctive, with an interesting mix of sounds, blended with such subtlety that they compliment each other beautifully.
Lianne La Havas
Lianne La Havas released her LP Is Your Love Big Enough? earlier in the year. Her soft and sultry voice offers beautiful dalliances with some true retro soul. The LP reflects an artist immersing herself in a sound that she loves; her fresh lyrics bring an old sound to life. This album is a sign of something even better to come but it is deservedly placed amongst all the other nominations.
The MOBO Awards
Lianne and Jessie have a busy week ahead as they have both also been nominated for MOBO awards. They are in contention for the best newcomer award and find themselves in the mix with some exciting new female artists. These ladies are producing new sounds within their genres and branching out to a wider audience. Dance and even folk influences are apparent in the work of these newcomer nominees:
Delilah released her debut LP in May and it has been one of my favourite albums of the summer. It feels genuinely unique and rich, with an abundance of influences that have been soaked up across all of the tracks. There is a diverse range of sounds and styles throughout. Delilah is a truly different and exciting new British talent!
Aluna Francis is half of the duo AlunaGeorge (producer George Reid) and her voice will take you back to a great age in nineties RnB like no other. Their EP You Know You Like It was released in April and promises something exciting for the release of their forthcoming LP. The first single from this, ‘Your Drums, Your Love’, was released last month. AlunaGeorge use synths to blend Aluna’s sweet voice with RnB and lo-fi influences to create something special.
You can watch the Barclaycard Mercury Prize on 4Music, Thursday night at 9:45pm. The MOBO awards are televised from 10pm on Saturday 3rd of November BBC3.