LISTEN: Sophia – ‘Strong For Two’

Strong For Two‘, the latest offering from Rotterdam based singer songwriter Sophia, is a reflective track which popped just the right spring in my step as I took my first strides into 2022. 

With lyrics like “Please don’t be afraid / I get lonely too / there’s no need for shame / you can own your truth”, Sophia shows herself to be he a strong lyricist with an observational and bravely personal outlook. Frequently inviting us to embrace our vulnerability, line by line, Sophia cultivates such a bond with her listener that each verse comes to feel like the warming layers of a good hug.

Complementing the lyrics is a neat and upbeat sauntering rhythm which hints at the R’n’B influences on Sophia’s work. Her ability to vocally switch tempo and tone throughout the song also makes the track feel like a journey, like I’m being taken by the hand into the middle of the dance floor – or maybe just the middle of myself. The song closes with the appearance of several new voices speaking the reaffirming words “You know where to find me”. This surprising touch adds an exciting female flourish to the song which offers a genuine sense that we really are all in this together: a track for the New Year truly. 

Tutku Barbaros
@tutkubarbaros

LISTEN: Megzz – ‘Checkmate’

Following the release of her debut EP Feel My Love in 2019, and acclaim from the likes of BBC Introducing for last year’s ‘Tell Me Why‘, unsigned Northamptonshire artist Megzz has now shared her latest single ‘Checkmate’ – a truly soulful treat for the ears. Fans will know of her commitment to using her platform and creativity to speak on self love, mental health and racism. Throughout the last year, Megzz has raised funds for several charities tackling these areas and even created her own movement. It’s a wonder she’s had time to create new music at all, and yet here’s ‘Checkmate’ – a fresh, empowering tune for anyone frustrated after being left on read. She’s a wonder woman!

‘Checkmate’ opens with a tasty pop and R’n’B influenced beat from which Megzz launches her gymnastic ability to deliver bars of crystal clear lyricism while displaying broad vocal range. Soon, the charming, toe-tapping intro takes a satisfying drop into the meaty bite of a more electronic sound (think SBTRKT meets Lapsley) luring us from swaying shoulders to banging heads and back. Meanwhile Megzz’s songwriting is the stuff of Insta caption dreams – “a queen without her king is still a monarch” is my current favourite.

Megzz obviously has a huge amount to say and I can’t wait to hear what this innovative artist does next.

Tutku Barbaros
@tutkubarbaros

Track Of The Day: MEI – ‘Let Dusk Welcome Me’

Following acclaim for previous singles ‘See Us’ and ‘Happy Man’ from the likes of The Independent and Gal-Dem, London-based artist MEI has just released her new EP, Hard Way Around The Sun. A poignant collection reflecting on the turmoil of the last year – from personal struggles such as recovering from Covid and the breakdown of a relationship, to more social issues like tackling racial injustices – it acknowledges the challenges we’ve been through whilst offering a cheering sense of hope and resilience.

Taken from the EP, latest single ‘Let Dusk Welcome Me‘ provides a welcome pool of tranquility. Interweaving a lilting jazz-infused groove and funk-fused beats, it ripples with the smooth allure of MEI’s lush, soulful vocals, oozing a swirling ethereal atmosphere with horn arrangements courtesy of Cassie Kinoshi. As the beautifully blissful soundscape flows, it calms the senses and uplifts the mood with its woozy, soothing energy and empowering spirit, building to a buoyant pop anthem; a ray of enriching sunlight at a time when many of us need it the most.

Of the track, MEI expands:

“‘Let Dusk Welcome Me’ is full of metaphors describing my experience surviving COVID 19 and specifically the first time I left home for a walk after believing that I might not survive. It was dusk, my favourite time of day and there was this incredible orange and pink light, the air was so fresh and raw in my lungs and it was a moment I’ll never forget.”

Watch the animated visuals for ‘Let Dusk Welcome Me’ here:

The Hard Way Around The Sun, the new EP from MEI, was created with an all-female team and is out now. Listen here.


Mari Lane
@marimindles

LISTEN: Chloe Castro – ‘FUTURE’

Having been tipped as one of BBC Introducing’s ‘Tips for 2021’, and previously charming listeners when she reached the quarter finals of BBC One’s The Voice, British-Brazilian artist Chloe Castro has now shared a powerful new single.

Gliding in with pristinely enunciated vocals, ‘FUTURE‘ mesmerises instantly. Just as our hips start to find an infinity motion to match the alternative R’n’B opener (think Banks meets PARTYNEXTDOOR), Castro switches the beat – suddenly smacking out speedier lyrics borrowing cadences from hip-hop and rap as she goes. 

For Castro, language isn’t just how she describes her emotions, but the conduit through which she makes us really feel them with her. When she belts out “fucking go for it” she hits the guttural “K” with a firmness that makes me gasp and nod my head in agreement like “yes tell him Chloe!”. The track’s refreshing bluntness lands like a high kick to the chest, accompanied by scattered subtle percussion. A perfectly crafted mood.

Although Castro goes in on indecisive boys and their half-baked excuses, this isn’t a heartache song – the opposite in fact. Instead of pleading for clarity and commitment, Castro holds her agency and her boundaries firm: “… you don’t need to tell me why you sad boy”. What a chant. She’s onto something there. The perfect track for a long chaotic Love Island obsessed summer. 

Tutku Barbaros
@tutkubarbaros