As discussed in our recent long read, The Sound of Silence – How Music Saved Me During Lockdown, the important role that music plays in our lives has been amplified during the Cover-19 crisis. But this is even more prevalent to Newcastle born songwriter, Fran O’Hanlon aka Ajimal, who’s been on the front line performing his day to day role as a doctor – working for the NHS in London.
Last week, his second LP, As It Grows Light / Dark, which was preceded by the incredible single, ANIMALS. After incredible support from BBC 6 Music, and support slots with Kathryn Joseph and Nadine Shah, we tasked O’Hanlon with selecting some of his favourite new music; these are Ajimal’s Five Right Now picks:
Sophie has been a friend of mine for a while and I think we crossed paths playing a Sofar show. She is one of the loveliest souls and writes beautiful music. Seeing her perform is a spectacle because she has perhaps the quietest speaking voice I’ve ever heard, despite a microphone, but then just opens up this huge, stunning voice when she sings. It’s amazing to watch a crowd crane their necks to hear, hanging onto her every word, and then just be blown away with the might of her songs. She’s just wonderful. She recently released her stunning Hammer EP, which is absolutely worth checking out.
Julia-Sophie sent me a lovely Instagram message a few weeks ago and asked about supporting at a show I had just announced. At precisely the same time, my housemate showed me her music after hearing Lauren Laverne play her on 6Music. I heard her first single, x0X, which was brilliant. Driving rhythms and deep luscious bass with this beautiful sense of space. Makes me long to be in a sweaty basement club. She’s just released an EP called y?
The Tessera gents are good friends of mine from Newcastle and we’ve played together a lot over the years we’ve known each other. We recorded a track of mine together called I’ve Known Your Heart, which was the starting point for my second album. They are not only thoroughly lovely humans but also superb musicians. Their song, Soliloquy of an Astronaut, is an absolute masterpiece and they just released a new single called Pianophase.
I say ’emerging’… he’s got 354k Instagram followers and just signed to Warner Records, but he released a simple video a few weeks ago singing a song called I Just Wanna Live, which I think his mother wrote the incredible lyrics to. His voice is amazing and he incredible control over it. Clearly a remarkably talented singer. I hope that he gets the right support to nurture his talent and not just squeezed to capitalise on a viral moment…
I was on a train to work early on a Saturday morning at the height of the Covid-19 lockdown and was listening to Elizabeth Alker’s show on BBC Radio 3 when she featured Sandrayati’s song, Segala. I found myself, jaw agape, listening on headphones and looking around the carriage for someone to share the beauty of that discovery with. The carriage was completely empty and I must have looked absolutely insane, but Sandrayati’s voice is spellbinding and I was completely captivated. She wrote the song on the Kecapi (which I have since learned is a Javanese harp) and it just carries you away. Can’t recommend highly enough.
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