Due to be announced on the 1 November, the Mercury Music Prize features a shortlist of talented artists including Plan B, Jessie Ware, Lianne La Havas, and Alt-J to name a few. But who do you think deserves to win the £20,000 prize?
‘Emerging over the last couple of years on a number of truly fantastic dance singles and album cuts with the likes of SBTRKT, Sampha and Joker, Jessie Ware delivers something altogether more widescreen while maintaining her signature soulful vocals on her debut album Devotion. Expertly balancing the 80’s soul of Sade and Lisa Stansfield with the house divas of the same period, Ware still manages to remain playful and slink through this concise set of tracks when recent contemporaries have solely bulldozed with emotion. This is not to say however that Ware shies away from the big statement, as tracks such as ‘Wildest Moments’ are surely destined for festival glory. Furthermore singles such as ‘Running’ with its cinemascope sophisti-pop and ‘110%’’s harkening back to Ware’s 2-Step garage roots provide shimmering moments which make the quieter points, such as the intensely intimate ‘Night Light’, more poignant than was ever thought possible.’
‘I can’t claim to have heard all of this year’s nominated albums, but I find it hard to believe I would enjoy any of them more than Ben Howard’s Every Kingdom. After fifty plus listens, Every Kingdom was still the only album I wanted to listen to, failing to get boring as I find with most albums. It did not have a big budget, nor did it need one, with Ben writing all the songs himself and recording with just two others, India Bourne and Chris Bond. The songs stay based around his tranquil voice and the beautiful sound of his acoustic guitar, which results in a wonderful journey for anyone with a passion for acoustic music. The album is the work of a very talented individual, finding the recipe for success first time and not only does it deserve the recognition it clearly warrants, Ben deserves to be known as more than just the guy who covered ‘Call Me Maybe’ in the Live Lounge.’
‘Whether you see him as that pop star who wrote that film, or the true voice of a lost generation, it is impossible to deny that Ben Drew aka Plan B knows how to write a decent tune. From his early days as the rapper with the acoustic guitar, via the more contemplative, soulful and heavily blues influenced sounds of second album The Defamation of Strickland Banks we arrive at his angriest, and arguably greatest offering to date, Ill Manors.
A partial score to the film of the same name, the album wastes no time in getting stuck in to portraying a similarly bleak picture of the society in which we live. Whilst there is a tangible energy present throughout most of the record, this was never meant to be an album to get the party started and it is Drew’s quick witted, heavily caustic and exceptionally well delivered lyrics that really carry the weight here.
Not everyone will relate to the lyrical content of Ill Manors but surely most will see it for what it is. A well written, hard hitting reflection of the lives led within some of the less fortunate communities around the UK. The Mercury Music Prize is an award for innovation and for doing something aside from the ordinary. With this in mind Plan B is surely in with a good chance of taking it home.’