fri 20/05/2022

Album: Maverick Sabre - Don't Forget to Look Up | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Maverick Sabre - Don't Forget to Look Up

Album: Maverick Sabre - Don't Forget to Look Up

Understatement and introspection from the Anglo-Irish soul journeyman

Michael Stafford aka Maverick Sabre is the definition of a modern journeyman vocalist. Since 2008 he’s released three albums and appeared on a huge range of British and Irish rap, dubstep and drum’n’bass artists’ records. He’s had several top 40 singles and streams into the tens, even hundreds of millions on tracks, but he hasn’t necessarily got the name recognition of some of his contemporaries.

Maybe it’s that range that’s the issue: he has an instantly recognisable voice, but given that he spans soul, rap and the kind of grand sweep Celtic romanticism that almost puts him in Lewis Capaldi / Sam Fender / Dermot Kennedy territory – his successes have come via everything from mainstream house remixes to collaborating with rappers like Chip and Akala to touring with Irish stadium indie band The Script – it’s hard to place him as an artist.

His albums, of course, give a more coherent picture. And on his fourth, he’s in great and distinctive form. It’s a deliberately introspective record, touching on lockdown induced feelings of isolation and claustrophobic relationships, and Stafford’s earnest, raw style suits that. Stylistically it ranges from acoustic singer-songwriter (“Place and Time”) through Sam Cooke style retro soul (“Can’t be Wrong”), more modern Jill Scott / The Roots soul/funk (“Walk These Days”) to downtempo disco (the remarkable, woozy closer “Get Down” with Nile Rogers on guitar).

The one thing that’s missing is killer hooks. Which is not to say the songs aren’t memorable: they creep into your unconscious and stay with you. But there are several points where you might feel like they’re about to cut loose, but they stay steadily grooving along. Maybe that’s deliberate, given the thoughtful subject matter, but given the power of Stafford’s voice and personality it can leave you wishing for a bolder statement. Maybe that’s coming: the funk and relative experimentalism of “Get Down” hints at a whole different direction with enormous promise. Ultimately this album feels steady-as-she-goes, an artist who’s always gone his own way cementing his position, but it also feels full of promise of a really major statement yet to come.

@joemuggs

Listen to "Can't be Wrong":

It’s a deliberately introspective record, touching on lockdown induced feelings of isolation and claustrophobic relationships, and Stafford’s earnest, raw style suits that

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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