Bringing you a pick of the month’s best releases, Maria Hanlon and Jojo Jones present 10 tunes that have hit their decks – and got a reload – in March. Starring VC Pines, Kay Young, Ego Ella May, Yazmin Lacey, nineteen97, Murkage Dave, BUSHROD, Illa J, Harleigh Blu, JGrrey, ROZZQWEEN, Kamal. & Nia Archives…
For fans of… King Krule, Steve Lacy, Glass Animals
Why listen… VC Pines is back with a magnetic and mesmerising new track!
Following on from the release of his incredible comeback track ‘Running’ earlier this year, VC Pines returns with his second single ‘Dangling’. The song was co-written and co-produced alongside Hoots and showcases VC Pines’ rich, dynamic and soulful sound that he is becoming known for. Speaking about the track, VC Pines says “Dangling is a culmination of bad habits, late nights and broken relationships. BUT. The fact that these are exacerbated by things that are all in your head.” We spoke to VC Pines back in January, check out the full interview here. (MH)
Illa J x Harleigh Blu
Talkin To Me
For Fans of… Jhene Aiko, Mahalia, Erykah Badu
Why Listen… A soothing neo-soul collab perfect for Spring
Illa J on production and Harleighblu on vocals never seems to miss when it comes together as their last single ‘Brand New‘ proved, and this new drop is no exception. Blu hails from Nottingham and Illa J originally from Detroit making this tune a perfect mash up of wavy neo-soul harmonies and floaty synths. A perfect song for when the sun comes out, this one makes me excited for what summer is going to bring us from these two. (JJ)
Kay Young, Ego Ella May
Woe Is Me
Play It Again Sam
For fans of… Yazmin Lacey, ENNY, Poppy Ajudha
Why listen… Two talented women teaming up on a stunning soul track, what’s not to love?!
Kay Young is a producer, singer and rapper who needs to be on your radar. On her latest release, ‘Woe Is Me’, Kay teams up with super talented songwriter and vocalist Ego Ella May. The pair lay down stunning soulful vocals over a slow hip hop beat to create the perfect chill bop. Kay says; “With this project and new era, I feel I’ve arrived as an artist… I’m all about not limiting myself this time. I’m trusting my judgement and instincts. I’ve met that person I’ve always wanted to be. This is it.” (MH)
May ft Kojey Radical
For fans of… Greentea peng, Loyle Carner, Joy Crookes
Why Listen… A killer UK hip hop beat with deep and meaningful lyrics.
One of the queens of the alternative neo-soul fusion scene of London, JGrrey has always been on my radar as an undiscovered star. This track makes me hungry for more as she delivers her second single of 2023 alongside London rapper Kojey Radical. A heartfelt number confronting grief and trauma, dedicated to JGrrey’s best friend James who she lost last year. The serious topic conflicts with the silky piano chords and JGrrey’s falsetto vocals making this song a balancing act of emotions. (JJ)
From A Lover
Own Your Own Records
For fans of… Aretha Franklin, Nai Palm, Minnie Ripperton
Why listen… Yazmin Lacey brings the vintage vibes with the soulful ‘From A Lover’.
Rising star Yazmin Lacey has just released her debut album ‘Voice Notes’ on March 3rd. The album follows on from three stunning EP’s; Black Moon (2017), When The Sun Dips 90 Degrees (2018) and Morning Matters (2020). Speaking about the name and meaning behind the album Lacey says; “For me, a voice note represents an immediate reaction to something,” she continues “It’s unfiltered and raw in the way that you can hear it.” ‘From A Lover’ is a firm favourite from the album as it has a nostalgic feel and is soft, slow and infused with jazz. (MH)
For fans of… Pip Millet, Ama Lou, Amy Winehouse,
Why listen… stripped back guitar chord and an unforgettable voice
This one from ROZZQWEEN surprised me on first listen. The bubbly London-via-Brum singer often delivers tunes mixed with trap, R&B and ballads to match the gravitas of her soulful voice. But for this one she has gone back to basics, stripped it all back with a single acoustic guitar accompanying her Amy Winehouse-esque scats and lyrics. There is no doubt of the feeling and heart that went into this powerful tune about sabotaging a relationship, as the artist says via instagram, “this is by far the most vulnerable song I have ever written” which has definitely paid off. (JJ)
nineteen97, Murkage Dave
For fans of… Frankie Stew & Harvey Gunn, Dizzee Rascal, Skepta
Why listen… Birmingham-based nineteen97 is back with a banger, blending R&B, Garage and elements of early 2000’s Grime.
Rapper and producer nineteen97 has teamed up with East London legend Murkage Dave to create a track that takes us on a sonic journey through grime, garage and R&B. nineteen97 lays down his honest bars and brings in Murkage Dave to add his unique vocals to create a track that highlights the value of those closest to you in moments of desperation. With a steady flow of releases we’re hoping a full project might be on the horizon for nineteen97! (MH)
For fans of… Omar Apollo, Hozier, Frank Ocean
Why listen… a pop infused RnB track displaying some much needed male vulnerability.
Kamal is a singer-songwriter from North-West London releasing music since 2019, but this track marks his first full body of work with the mixtape so here you are drowning, a quote pulled from Caleb Azumah-Nelson’s epic novel Open Water. Azumah-Nelson also lends his voice to this track reading an excerpt from his book to close out Kamal’s mixtape and complete this floaty pop-R&B track. With an echoing bassline and teasing high hats, this one is straight out of a coming of age movie and will cause major main character syndrome. (JJ)
For fans of… Easy Life, Loyle Carner, The Silhouettes Project
Why listen… Rising star rapper BUSHROD gives us a soulful and soothing new tune ‘Open Ocean’.
BUSHROD has been making some serious waves in the alternative UK rap scene. He cleverly combines alternative hip hop with his playful personality and brilliant storytelling to create his signature sound. ‘Open Ocean’ demonstrates his talent and versatility as an artist as he sings and raps on the track. The tune is about making the move from a small town (Banbury) to a big city (London) and his vivid lyrics and visuals once again paint the picture perfectly. (MH)
No Need 2 Be Sorry, Call Me? Ft Maverick Sabre
For fans of… Finn Foxell, piri & tommy, Conducta
Why listen… a soulful, breakbeat infused duet from the current UK mistress of dance music.
Nia Archives took the world by storm last year by winning best electronic/dance act last year at the MOBO’s, and has been going from strength to strength ever since. This song comes from her new EP Sunrise Bang Ur Head Against Tha Wall, and I wanted to highlight this specific tune as it takes a turn from her usual drum and bass, rave ready tracks. With the help of soul R&B legend Maverick Sabre, this tune shows a more vulnerable, slower side of Nia we haven’t seen before. There are still breakbeat and jungle influences maintaining the typical Archives sound we have come to know and love, but the variety she is showing is impressive and not one to be missed. (JJ)
Words: Jojo Jones (JJ) Jojo Jones is a freelance writer, photographer, DJ & radio host. Listen to Jojo Jones on the 3rd Wednesday of the month on voicesradio.co.uk and check out her work @jojo_j0nes jojojones.uk