Singer-songwriter Chloe Blackwell triumphs over American soul artist Diggs Duke in this week's battle
In our latest battle, MusicLab put two unsigned musicians up against one another from the typically smooth and passionate genre that is soul. We invited you, the esteemed new music-loving public, simply to listen, rate and review one track from each artist, and afterwards, crown one as winner.
But just what did we have for you to listen to from the soul genre?
Do you agree with our MusicLab participants this week? Scroll down to listen to the tracks and join the debate in the comment box below
1. 'Holding On' by Diggs Duke
‘Holding On’ is the third track from DiggsDuke’s new EP, ‘Black Gold’, which he released on January 1st. The soul man from Maine, America, explains on his Bandcamp page that to him, ‘Gold’ is whatever we find contentment and comfort in. Presumably he hopes to infuse this same feeling in his short-but-sweet soul songs.
2. 'Hold Me Closer’ by Chloe Blackwell
Chloe Blackwell is a 21-year-old singer-songwriter from the Midlands, now living in London. A Brit School student, Chloe released her first ever EP, ‘Emerging’, on Bandcamp in December, and does regular live shows in and around the city. She has a big soul voice (not unlike her fellow Brit School predecessor, Adele).
So, after our MusicLab reviewers had got to work, it was London town’s Chloe Blackwell who stole away with 68% of their vote. It would seem that to these new-music fans, her soul was – well – just that little bit more soulful.
Here’s what they had to say when it came to weighing up their winner:
Here’s how both tracks did, from their ratings out-of-ten for various musical elements, to reviews submitted by those of you who took part.
If you didn’t get a chance to review these tracks in the mini battle, why not listen to the tracks below and tell us who would have been your winner in our Disqus comments section?
1. THIS WEEK’S MUSICLAB MINI-BATTLE WINNER: ‘Hold Me Closer’ by Chloe Blackwell
Visit Chloe’s Bandcamp page to name your price for an EP of her latest tracks. their official band page.
What did MusicLab music fans make of it?
“I really enjoyed this track. Simply put together but reaches out and is pure. Well done”
“Gorgeous and sumptuous voice overlayed onto smooth acoustic jazz with a hint of blues. Add a dash of soul structure and Ms. Blackwell lays out a very refreshing and comfortable indie soul sound"
“Although it starts tentatively, it rapidly develops and takes hold of you. Vocals very good and involving. Starts feeling a bit too breathy but this soon disappears. Good variation of tone and texture”
“Beautiful voice which is shown to its best advantage by this very stripped-back performance. Lovely guitar. Overall great sound. Love it”
“Initially vocals appealed but towards the end of the track began to sound over the top – repeating the chorus – and began to grate on me, but she definitely has a very good voice. Would recommend some kind of bass line, just to give the track a bit more "depth" – maybe a fretless bass with some fx on?”
“Best get a session acoustic guitar player in, and just concentrate on the vocals – she needs to be careful of becoming too affected with her vocal style, and to tighten up the harmonies”
“Dislike the lyrics as they are unoriginal and quite formulaic. The instrumental is simple and unobtrusive for the most part, but occasionally gets a little 'strummy' when at the emotive parts of the song, which spoils it”
“Doesn't stand out. Not memorable. Pleasing though”
“This is a nice song but more of an album track I would think”
“I love the vocals, as I think they are very talented. I'm not so keen on the guitar rhythm as I don't believe it helps the song. I'm not sure about this song’s potential. I don’t believe it will be a chart hit, but it’s still good”
“Like it – not sure how original it is but has a lovely voice and really relaxing!”
“Very Kate Melua; has a good chance of hitting the main stream”
“Love the guitar and vocals are very good. Quite long though, could be shortened and would keep interest longer”
“Needs better guitar production, but the vocals and harmonies are good. Would be interested to hear this in a band version rather than as an acoustic solo where I think it would hold more interest”
“She sounds almost like a cross-over between Joss Stone and Jessie J, but is softer in an acoustic format, letting us have an insight into her inner-most, raw, loving thoughts”
“Easy to listen to. A bit like something I have heard before. Something I could have on in the car or in the evening with low light and a glass of something :-D”
“Great voice, liked lyrics had real sense of feeling and passion from the singer”
“This can be a great opportunity to show your music for what it is, by laying it out bare without sexing it up in a complex arrangement, but this just a girl singing with an acoustic guitar overdubbing some backing vocals”
“This is my sort of thing. Really like her voice and the style of music. Not sure about the background singing though”
2. 'Holding On' by Diggs Duke
Want to sample more of Diggs’ music? Visit his Soundcloud page.
What did MusicLab music fans make of it?
“A solid debut performance that promises much. Smooth and edgy soul that while listenable could be improved with a strong producer to reach a more commercial market”
“It is a great easy going rhythm with a gentle touch, just right for the evenings, relaxing with friends and having a drink”
“Although very well put together and tuneful, sometimes I feel less is more and this tried to fit too much in”
“Doesn't make me think I love this, sounds a bit old fashioned and like something you would hear on the end of a phone line if you were on hold!”
“Find it a bit jittery. Not relaxing. Vocals fighting the backing”
“Good – clear vocals and instrumentals. Not so good – slightly boring and repetitive”
“I don't think it is very different – but I do think it has a lovely mellow, groovy, relaxing sound that you could chill to. I'd like to hear more”
“I like the drumming, it's reminiscent of the older pop-jazz songs. The main riff is repeated too much though, it is catchy at first, but it just ends up really annoying”
“I like the lyrics especially but I felt it could do with the vocals being a stretched for the lyrics you feel more passionate about. However, having never heard this before, I enjoyed this”
“I like the upbeatness of the track – it just makes you want to dance!”
“I think the track was really good and would be very popular if it was in the charts!”
“It has a catchy beat but feels rather repetitive overall hence loses my overall interest quite quickly”
“It’s not really my thing and I find the multitude of instruments distracting. But would not turn it off if it was on the radio”
“It’s light, cheery, and bouncy”
“I like soul music that has heritage and a frame reference, there is a tight, highly produced groove with limited harmonic movement but nothing soulful, this is introvert not extrovert music, very safe with limited commercial viability”
“Nice original rhythm. I don't know why but it reminded me of Stevie Wonder from a long time ago. I liked his voice and the lyrics”
“Quite cool and contemporary, however the lyrics and song got a wee bit repetitive. As if you loved that one riff and just stuck with it. Overall a nice little number but not inspiring. Lacked soul”
“Quite fresh and original with a nice whimsical feel. The riff gets monotonous though”
“Starts well, singing is reminiscent of ‘70s soul music. But doesn't take me anywhere. Was nice as background”
“The fanfare is a good touch, some greater range in vocals would be interesting”
“The loop (piano) sounds repetitive in places. However I like the drums and sax in the middle and the vocals come across quite subtle”
“The sound is not essentially soul, with it's almost alternative-style backing drums, yet the vocals are soothing soul, as are the mellow keyboard sound and the subtle sax tones”
“Very easy on the ear, and has a good lick”