So here we are, our number one artist to Listen Out for in 2014. He made the UK Blog Sound Longlist earlier this week (where he was referred to as being ‘idosyncratic’) and while we have no idea if he will make the top 3 of that poll, we are sure that 2014 holds even greater things for him than 2013 already has.
The year began with a unique introduction to Sivu and the different way he sees the world with the completely hypnotic and incredible video for “Better Man Than He”. His debut track, which has pulled on our heartstrings like no other this year – especially when performed live in a tent in the woods at Latitude) came with the visual accompaniment of Sivu singing inside an MRI Scanner. If you haven’t seen it, you should (now and here) as it is properly amazing and the tongue is mesmeric. Trust us.
But that was just the start, since then he has toured seemingly incessantly on a grand supportslotapalooza, heading around the country with a variety of acts (London Grammar, Stornoway, The Staves for example) taking his tunes out to the people. The year is culminating in a co-headline tour with the also amazing Marika Hackman and a joint release with her as well.
His music is a heady mix of instantly accessible, light sounding folk popness, and dark themes born out of heartache and despair. “Better Man Than He” was written for a friend who was suffering from depression and “I Lose Myself” was inspired (if that’s the right word in these circumstances) by the drugs culture he was exposed to on first moving to London and “the idea of getting bogged down by life, and wanting to go and destroy yourself”. It’s hardly the stuff of sunshine and rainbows but the chorus of “I Lose Myself” in particular, the arrangement and production is actually quite uplifting and optimistic.
He is a beguiling artist, telling tales born in the shadows of anguish, or inspired by theology in a rousing and heartswelling manner. Acoustic sounds marble with electronic embellishments, strings ebb and flow with the tide and all the while, introspections and observations pour out like nectar for our soul. It is entirely possible, ironically, to lose yourself in his lightly rasping voice and warm melodies. Even when singing “Coldhands” is like a walk across a warm yellow corn field on a calm day, fingers running over the tops of the long stems as they are rustled by a gentle breeze.
It’s been a remarkable rise in the last few months but given his talent and the quality and depth of the music he is currently making, it’s not a surprising one. With an album slated for 2014, it should just be the start.