British singer-songwriter could make inroads here with EP

Doug
Doug Gallant
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Gabrielle Aplin releases English Rain

I don’t devote many columns to EPs, but every once in a while a new artist surfaces with an EP that so captures my attention I feel compelled to put something out there.

The artist who has captured my attention in this instance is 22-year-old British singer-songwriter Gabrielle Aplin.

The EP I can’t seem to get out of my head — not that I want to — is English Rain.

Aplin is just really starting to generate buzz on this side of the Atlantic, but in the U.K. her star has risen dramatically during the past couple of years.

The full-length album from which five of the six songs on the English Rain EP were taken spent almost five months on the U.K. album charts in 2012, peaking at No. 2.

Her cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Power of Love, hit No. 1 on both the U.K. and Australian iTunes charts. It was also featured in promos for the ABC hit series Resurrection.

Now it’s time for North America to be more formally introduced to Aplin, who grew up in Sutton Benger, a small rural village about 160 km west of London, in a self-confessed "hippy" home where music was an important part of family life.

In that nurturing environment she listened to artists like Joni Mitchell, Bruce Springsteen and Nick Drake. She absorbed their music and the music of other artists like a sponge, but it’s singer-songwriters like Mitchell, more so than artists from other genres, who seemed to have influenced her writing when she began to craft her own songs.

Her folk/country influences can be found throughout this EP. But so, too, can her pop influences.

Aplin has solid writing chops. She’s also got one of those voices that you can’t forget, not that you would want to. Hers is a very flexible voice. One moment she’s sweetness and light, delivering a lovely cover of Joni Mitchell’s A Case of You. The next she’s a powerhouse, pounding out an anthemic pop song like Salvation.

She really is quite impressive.

And I’m certainly not alone in believing she has what it takes to go the distance.

To date, her YouTube channels have racked up more than 57 million hits. She has also toured with John Mayer, Gotye and Ed Sheeran, whom some scribes have compared her writing to.

Mike Spencer, who has also served as Emeli Sandé’s producer, helmed this effort for Aplin.

Choice offerings on this EP include Panic Cord, Home, A Case of You and Salvation.

Rating: 3 ½ stars out of 5.

 

Doug Gallant, a reporter with The Guardian, writes his music review column for The Guardian every week. He welcomes comments from readers at dgallant@theguardian.pe.ca or 629-6000, ext. 6057.

Organizations: ABC, The Guardian

Geographic location: U.K., EPs, Atlantic Hollywood North America Sutton Benger London

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