Pressure is available at:
R&B; Soul; Dance; Electro.
IT is quite obvious this year is starting to…
get better and more positive. The first few months of 2016 were ones to forget. With the deaths of Prince and David Bowie hovering in the mind- and other notable music legends- it seemed like all was lost. Never has a single year produced so much tragedy; over such a short amount of time. As a result, there seems to be a defiance occurring: artists are coming through with some of the most stunning and immediate music you can imagine. Mainstream legends like De La Soul and The Avalanches are back. The former’s new single (Pain) suggests a future album: it is classic, old-skool De La Soul: you are taken back to their ‘80s heyday. The Avalanches- where have they been for 16 years?!- have just unveiled Frankie Sinatra. Whilst not as ‘pure’ and unfretted as their eponymous debut album- where it was a samples-only, cut-and-paste treasure trove- there is a more collaborative, less-rigid sense of discipline- a looser and less fastidious approach to their music. That said, all the weird, kooky and bananas elements are there: that inimitable and distinguished sound that could only come from Australia’s finest head-spinners. Paul Simon has just released a fantastic album in the shape of Stranger to Stranger. The 75-year-old legend has released one of his finest albums in decades.
Embracing modern production and urgency- embracing electronic and conspiring with Italian producer Clap! Clap! – it is a colourful, witty and magical L.P. A five-star, brimming-with-genius work from Simon: few would have predicted such a nuanced and splendid set (even from the Graceland maestro). In new music, this charge and quality can be found. Solo artists like Dua Lipa and Billie Marten are showing how age is no hindrance: each has produced exceptional, world-class sounds- Hotter Than Hell from Lipa; Milk & Honey is Marten’s latest. If the boys of the mainstream are stealing some of the focus: it is the girls (for my money) who are providing the most impressive and original music of the underground. My featured artist is someone who has exploded onto the scene. A beautiful, bright and immense talent: Pressure is the sound of a young woman with a long career ahead. Before I raise a new point, let me introduce Effie to you:
“Effie knew from a young age what career she wanted. Age just 11 she asked her parents if she could ‘go pro’ and signed up with the E Minor Choir. Within just a few years she was being mentored by Lemar, garnering praise from the MOBOs and Radio1 Xtra.
Now in her early twenties, Effie feels fully ready to make that leap she has always known was possible. Having spent the past 18 months developing her own material while working as a featured artist on releases for FOOR (Gravity / Everything You Need / So Good /Running Away / Connection), Dots Per Inch (Sparks and Flashes), Effie has been been enjoying finding her voice alongside some of the industry’s leading lights.
Having worked heavily with Ghetts, who invited Effie to join him for his 2014 tour, she featured as the vocalist on These Words, which is featured on his live album. Currently working with Ghetts and Rude Kid, writing and recording material for his forthcoming release. Her, a collaboration with O’D, was released earlier this year and saw Effie praised by TheFourOhFive for her ‘smooth and sultry vocals’.
Boasting the soul of Kwabs, the innovation of FKA Twigs and the vocal dexterity of Jessie Ware, Pressure is an honest representation of Effie’s intentions as an artist. A fusion of r’n’b, soul and electro, Pressure manages to be simultaneously polished and raw. Written at a point of emotional catharsis, it is elegantly constructed and powerfully delivered”.
Effie is someone who seems born to perform and make a career in music happen. Given her biography- her parents’ support from a tender age- she has consecrated her life to pursuing that dream- making sure her songs make their way to our brains. Surrounding herself with some of music’s most influential and best: it cannot be too long before (Effie) is a household name. Pressure has been picked up by the 1Extra Breakfast Show: Effie has already played the Isle of Wight Festival and Common People– how long before she is one of Glastonbury’s headliners? There is something completely natural and assured about her: the music just explodes and crackles; Effie is a natural-born artist that is completely comfortable and astonishing. With her four-track E.P. soon for release: her previous E.P., Conquer, was a bold and striking statement from one of music’s brightest young hopes. Her latest offerings have a maturity and quality that surpasses her early efforts: another musician that is growing in stature and intuition with each record. Effie is not one of those artists that let producers and teams mould her; waits for material to come in and bashes it out. There are a lot of Pop artists that have zero talent and ability: they exist to sing other people’s songs; be controlled and dictated as marketing tools.
Although Effie has a strong and loyal team behind her: she is a woman who takes charge and has astonishing control and determination. The authority and strength come through in Pressure: a sign that things are about to hot up for the London-based singer. When her E.P. is released; there will be touring demands and she will find herself the toast of the airwaves. I know she has a busy summer calendar: that is likely to become fuller and packed with every passing week. It is hard deciphering the truly great from the pretty-darned-average: there are so many new musicians coming through; it is such a challenge. There are many that have that initial burst and potential: only to succeed and whimper as time elapses. Given Effie’s ineffable drive and talent: she is someone who will go as far as she pleases; has that cache and originality to keep her music burning for years to come. I will be fascinated to see how she develops and matures as a young woman. Still in her early-20s: her music has an astonishing level-headiness and grounding: there are no juvenile moments or catty asides; just an intelligent and noble work rate that will see rewards and appreciation flood in.
Of course, there is a lot of talk about Effie’s forthcoming E.P. Fans and critics have seen how she has grown- knowing the brilliance she has already displayed- and are justifiably excited. Pressure is the finest song Effie has come up with in my view. Conquer was released a couple of years ago and proved what an artist Effie was. Addicted was the shining jewel that had that incredible, sensual voice all over it. With little compositional input- in the early stages- the song explodes into life and burst through the ceiling. Turning into a fast-moving club hit: the song documents an addictive love that is unshakable and huge. It’s Hard has a purity and romance to it. Addicted had that hooked-and-baited nature: Effie was in the middle of a whirlwind relationship; something she could not get out of- its effects were clear and evident. It’s Hard is a catchy and singalong track that reminds me of Destiny’s Child and ‘90s Soul/R&B. Groovy, sexual and confident: it is a slinky and stunning track that has some heartbreak and struggle. Her man- whether the same hero from Addicted– is making life hard and creating an internal struggle.
Biggest Regret and Oceans look at mistakes and love’s struggle; there is that same blend of immediate and textured: Effie’s powerful and stirring voice makes each song an instant classic. You cannot help but be swept up inside the song; they ensure people flock to the dance floor and get lost inside the music. Exceptional, polished production brings to life the vocal and introduces jagged electronics and huge rush. Each song has a very modern sound yet Effie reminds us of musicians past. Her love of ‘90s R&B and Soul legends is evident. Few young singers have such a layered and compelling voice. One of the things about Addicted is the lack of softer moments, perhaps. You get a quartet of heard-hitting and bracing songs: perhaps some polarity and tenderness could have come in. Being her debut E.P.: there was that need to announce her presence and define her sound. Getting into people’s mind often calls for an urgent and immediate set of songs. I know Effie has a gorgeous voice and tender soul: it would be great to see that explored on (one or two songs) that take the mood down and are a little more restrained. Perhaps that is not where her music is right now- she is in her 20s still- but perhaps her new E.P. will explore that side of things. It is a minor quibble from an E.P. that has no weak tracks: each song stands out and proves what an exceptional artist Effie is. Pressure is- in a way at least- a continuation and leap forward. We get the same production values and compositional elements found in Addicted. Also, you get those inimitable and assured vocals: exhilarating and incredible evocative. Pressure shows Effie at her most confident and compelling. Every second sees her (at the peak of) her powers: such vision and quality from a very young artist. The ensuring performances- between Addicted and Pressure– go into the song. The lyrics are sharper and deeper: they have more standout lines and maturity; the music is more rounded and scintillating- Effie has crafted one of the songs of the summer.
Pressure has already gathered a heap of praise and respect- blogs and reviewers have been keen to add their words and opinions. A strange and beautiful cocktail opens the song. A mouth-popping sound melts with a pulsing electronics and stamping beats: the resultant infusion ensures the track has a very unique and instantaneous quality. The introduction makes it mark straight away and elicits emotions, atmosphere, and drama- that builds and builds as the vocal approaches. The heroine has been experiencing sleepless night and turbulent dreams: something is on her mind and causing her a lot of weariness and disturbance. The nature of her sleeplessness seems to be a particular boy: somebody who will not evade her mind. The initial lyrics and themes have a commonness and relatability to them. A staple of music- a relationship or bond that is drug-like and troubling- you wonder whether Effie is trying to forget the boy- or caught in the magic of his spell (and happy about it). There is that early mystery and distance to begin with. You can tell how anxious and fevered (the heroine is); she is trying to make sense of things and remain focused. After the first few lines, I was wondering whether the song concerned a bygone relationship- one that keeps cropping up and causing its scars- or one that is current- and keeps Effie up at night. Embers of FKA twigs and Jessie Ware can be heard in the initial phases. Effie’s vocal has a little bit FKA-and-Ware: that soulfulness and directness; something mainstream and tangible- yet imbued with enough difference and distinction. The composition pumps and drives the vocal forward: everything is too hard to handle; you can feel the pressure mount and reach its precipice. When the chorus arrives, Effie lets her voice rise and strike: one of the most impassioned and powerful performances of her career.
New pieces of the puzzle come in and reveal new light. It seems like the bond has broken: Effie wonders whether they should get back together; if that is foolhardy. Maybe she will be pulled under (were she to take the boy back) or would it be a success? The couple was happy in the past but broke up for a reason: rekindling that relationship might not be the sagest decision. Most relationships that break up- and one party thinks about getting things going again- regrets it. Effie is too deep to step back and be objective: know things have been extinguished and broken beyond repair. Her hero has clearly made an impression- it would be interesting to know exactly who inspired the song. “Why do I always get myself in trouble?” is a question that shows honesty and bravery. Effie knows she has made some bad decisions and been naïve: perhaps going for the bad-boys and less pure types. That preference and instinct might lead her up the wrong road: her latest romance is causing intense confusion, doubt, and pain. You can feel that uncertainty and stress come right through- the production ensures each note and layer gets inside the brain. The lyrics have simplicity to them which means they can be sung by festival crowds: a song that you blare from the car and lose yourself in. Inside the easy-to-understand elements is a deeply personal song that looks for reconciliation, clarity, and answers.
Effie is not only assessing a complicated and unforgettable love: she is looking inside herself and wondering why she repeats patterns of behaviour. Maybe instinct has let her down in the past. Effie (in the past) has been reluctant to say what’s on her mind- maybe a hesitancy or demur- and that has cost her parts of the soul. Maybe the break-up is not as one-sided as you would imagine- I always assume the guy has caused it- and you get a feeling of self-assessment and maturity. Effie is not casting blame and pointing fingers: she recognises her culpability and transgressions; how timidity and silence have cost her something pure. On the other hand- the fact she is so conflicted and tormented- means things are not clear-cut and obvious- the decisions (to get things started again) is far from simple and obvious. The song gets hotter and heavier by the two-minute mark. The composition combusts and grows: the vocals layer and add to the anxiety; the percussion slams and growls; the electronics jittery and intense. In the swirl of panic, contradictions and explosion: Effie remains controlled and settled; ensuring the song does not get too heated. Her voice- whilst it possesses pain- is a calming and beautiful thing. She is not going to pressure the boy and make him stay.
Few Soul/Dance tracks have such a complexity and nuance to them. Often too simple, direct and unsophisticated: Pressure is a song that evolves and surprises at every turn. The composition is always changing and moving: making sure the emotion and lyrics come fully to life; they stop-start and calm; race and scuttle with no warning. Effie’s vocals get layered and intertwine- scoring and underlining the desperation and confusion. Your heart goes out to the heroine and what she is facing. By the song’s end, the vocal fades and the song start to dissipate. With the electronics draining away; there is that emotion and cliffhanger element. Does Effie know what she’s going to do? You wonder if the relationship issues were resolved; if they got back together and how things ended. Effie has a lot of affection in her heart: making the right decision is proving a challenge; you have such empathy and support for her plight. Supported by incredible songwriting and production: Pressure is one of the most immediate, stunning and compelling tracks of the spring. I have mentioned the likes of Jessie Ware and FKA twigs as a positive: you can hear embers of both; Effie is in no way inferior. Pressure is a track that seems destined for mainstream radio and has such mobility- able to enthrall ‘Radio 1 and 2 listeners; make its way onto ‘6 Music. Such a stunning and impressive song bodes well for the new E.P.: fans will be desperate to get her hands on it!
It has been great discovering a young talent that gets inside the head and fills you with fascination. Effie has had an interesting and varied upbringing: from such a musical family; it is only natural she would take to music so keenly. If you have not heard of Effie: be prepared to learn a lot more about the young star. Already- aside from festival dates and her own material- she has provided vocals for Ghetts’ track, These Words: laid her vocals down to (U.K. Garage act) Foor for their album, Yoshi. She is a busy lady and this is unlikely to abate. With every new track, she reveals a part of herself. Maybe heartache and love’s foibles defined her early work: she has varied her lyrics book and is embracing more concerns and issues; showing versatility and range. I heard about Pressure from its co-writer: the wonderful Olivia Stania. Mystic Sons’ music scout and P.R. genius: I can see her personality and talent come through; let’s hope there will be more work from her (as a writer) in the future. As for Effie herself, what can you say? I have been pleased with the number of solid and original young acts coming through right now. I mentioned the likes of Dua Lipa and Billie Marten: Effie is another you can add to that list; someone who could give the mainstream a real shot of energy. Aside from the legends and stalwarts of the scene: there are few that are exciting me right now; it is quite a mixed affair. Yes; there have been some great singles and albums from the last couple of months- James Blake, Radiohead; De La Soul, The Avalanches; Paul Simon and Beck- but these are from acts that have established themselves and are well-known.
What of those coming through and making their first moves? The media is quick to proclaim bands/artists as their next-big-thing, and that always troubles me: maybe the pressure and expectation get to them; perhaps the initial praise is unwarranted and impromptu? Whatever it is, there needs to be more stability and consistency in the top league. News musicians coming through- bubbling under the surface; perhaps unsigned and tender- are creating the best sounds. Effie is someone who has the promise and consistency to last a long time and inspire other artists. Pressure is perhaps an ironic title: the song flows and has an ease to it; a brilliant and accomplished performance from someone who is has a huge backing behind her. The social media numbers continue to rise and the reviews are tumbling in.
I cannot wait to hear Effie’s new E.P. and what it offers: there are likely to be a string of summer-ready, stick-in-your-head songs that burst with personality and electricity. Effie is a musician who has grown up around some vintage music: her tender ears were subjected to the finest the scene has offered. Fast-forward and artists like Jessie Ware, Beyoncé and Kwabs have made their mark: you get a little bit of each of them in her soulful and gorgeous tones. Artists like Dua Lipa and Alessia Cara are showing (new music at least) is very much the girls’ to own: they are the boldest and most scintillating musicians coming through. Maybe that is a controversial and narrow view: I humbly believe the female dollar is more precious and better value compared to the boys; there are a greater number (of great and profound) female artists emerging. In the past, we have seen the media focus on bands, boys, and their music: the girls have often had to fight to get their voice recognised; lingered in the shadows for a long time. Although Effie shows strength, determination, and a superb attitude: she is still a young woman who feels the same strains and stresses (than her peers).
Love and relationships play on her mind; the expectations of life can weigh her down: music is the way Effie expresses her pain and exorcises demons. Such an honest and open musician is to be applauded and respected. Past endeavours have worn influences on sleeve and mixed older-day legends and new gems. Her new material shows unique edge and original personality. Pressure has summer-like vibe and expressive sound: a song that is busy and rousing; there is still some concern and anxiety beneath the surface. After the shaky and sorrow-ridden start to 2016: I am delighted to see there is a change in the wind; something redemptive and hopeful coming through. Returning legends are coming up with new material; some of the finest albums of the year have just been dropped- all the signs look very good indeed. Effie is coming in- with her best material yet- at the right time. She has released Pressure at the perfect time: her E.P. will arrive and build her reputation; get more fans supporting her work. If you have not fallen in love with the young Londoner, you soon will: Effie is one of those artists that you know will succeed and become a big star; be a fixture of the mainstream before you know it. Songs like Pressure prove what a huge talent we have before us. On a cloudy day- unless it is sunny where you are- spin her latest track and…
HAVE a huge smile put on your face.