Nashville – Prince Harry knows who Kwabs is, but you might not yet. Kwabena Adjepong, better known as Kwabs, hasn’t released a proper album but has already performed at Buckingham Palace. His spine-tingling performance on the British reality television show Goldie’s Band earned him attention from the British press and public, but it is his haunting, electronic originals that have caught the attention of BestNewBands.com.
Kwabs is the son of Ghanaian immigrants who moved to the UK when he was just a toddler. He’s been singing since around that age, and the power in his voice indicates that he was born to sing. His talent is such that many a hyperbole can justifiably be hung on him.
Although Kwabs has a rare gift, he is following a tradition from his homeland. The tones in his voice possess a richness found in the best African vocalists. Ladysmith Black Mambazo (the South African group who sang on Paul Simon’s Graceland) and Seal (who is Nigerian) have the same sort of color and depth in their voices.
Kwabs’ talent earned him an education with the Royal Academy of Music where he studied jazz. He has said that he is also heavily influenced by R&B and soul, but electronic artists such as James Blake seem to be from whom he draws most strongly. For those who are tired of the choir boy falsetto which has lately accompanied electronic music, Kwabs is a godsend. Here is a man with a man’s voice.
The emotion with which Kwabs sings is perhaps what is most catching about his music. Such a technically precise, practiced voice is liable to come off as sterile, but Kwabs’ voice is filled with the meaning of his words. He is no great poet and is a bit of a bleeding heart, but his lyrics have an inherent rhythm that suits the music. The way his lyrics shape the music is more important than the words themselves.
Thus far, Kwabs has released his music through Soundcloud and Youtube, but he’s now working on an album since signing to Atlantic Records UK. The album is due out sometime next year. You can check out the first single from that effort, a song called “Last Stand,” below.
Viennese/British artist SOHN produced it and left his mark of low-burning, electronic layers which complement Kwabs dark, emotive songwriting.
Be sure not to miss his cover of James Blake’s “The Wilhelm Scream” that bloggers from London to L.A. are oozing over or that aforementioned performance at Buckingham Palace. The first thirty seconds are proof enough that we should expect great things from Kwabs in the future. Keep him on your radar as he’s sure to release more singles before his album appears.
After dabbling in many parts of the music industry—recording studios, PR, management, labels, publishing—I’m expanding into music journalism because I’m yet to find anything more rewarding that finding and sharing new music.
A longtime sucker for girls with guitars, my musical taste unabashedly follows the songwriting lineage of Dolly Parton and includes Patty Griffin, Gillian Welch, and Neko Case. But not to pigeonhole myself, my music love is big love that stretches from R.L. Burnside to Animal Collective to Lord Huron.
I’ve recently moved home to Nashville after living in Boston and Big Sur for several years. I’d forgotten how music pours onto the streets ten hours a day, seven days a week. I’m honored to share the creative explosion happening here. If your band is in the area or of the area, please reach out!
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