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Gabrielle Aplin

It’s refreshing these days to find an artist not to come through the unenviable/enviable ranks of the X-Factor charade, although, instead, the help of a John Lewis “X-mas” TV ad did give her a wee push towards fame and fortune. Proper talent always shines through though, and her HOLLY JOHNSON-endorsed version of `The Power Of Love’ (a chart-topper for FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD way back in ’84) emulated its wintry predecessor by also scaling the charts in 2012.
Born 10th October 1992, Bath, Somerset, England, but raised in the petite village of Sutton Benger, Wiltshire, her musical CV began when she learned how to play guitar (and piano) at the age of 11. Utilising modern applications such as YouTube to get her video message(s) across to a wider audience, devotees to the internet medium could judge her performances of DYLAN, BON IVER and KATY PERRY songs, while she wasn’t exactly slacking on the songwriting department; three self-released demo-type EPs were available between 2010-2012:- `Acoustic’, `Never Fade’ and `Home’. Obvious flag-bearers was the timely success of the folk-pop market established by the likes of LAURA MARLING and MUMFORD & SONS. This more or less helped her get in a toe in the door and an invitation to the BBC’s Maida Vale “Introducing” sessions in 2011, gave her the necessary exposure to compete with the multitude of X-Factor contestants hitting the market.
The people at Parlophone Records invested in her talents almost immediately, choosing her haunting version of “Power” to gain maximum impact. At only 20 years-young, girl-next-door APLIN was on top of the charts, if not the world – but maybe that feat was just around the corner.
On the back of two further Top 20 hits, `Please Don’t Say You Love Me’ and `Panic Cord’, the Mike Spencer-produced ENGLISH RAIN (2013) {*8} heralded in a fresh-faced artist that could embrace more than one generation. Sparking a flood of sales in Britain (kept off the top spot by Rod the Mod’s “Time”), and augmented by seasoned songwriters such as Iain Archer (ex-SNOW PATROL) and Nick Atkinson, one can recall JONI MITCHELL or the more-recent AMY MacDONALD on heartfelt ballads `How Do You Feel Today?’, `Ready To Question’, `Home’ and `Salvation’; for lovers of the upbeat and the uplifting, `Keep On Walking’, `November’ and `Start Of Time’ should suffice.
That difficult second album, LIGHT UP THE DARK (2015) {*6}, never quite reached out over land and sea, with a fickle Britain, itself, partly shunning her efforts for a poor peak Top 20 position. Penned in part with producer Luke Potashnick, her honest and heartfelt performances were top-notch on `Sweet Nothing’ and the title track (flop singles both); it was just the added arrangements were safe and secure, trying hard to fit in with today’s feisty fillies, LUCY ROSE, FLORENCE and LAURA MARLING; `Shallow Love’ and `Skeleton’, the exceptions to the rule.
APLIN’s all-too-brief trip to the top was again curtailed when Parlophone duly gave her the elbow. Reviving her own aptly-named Never Fade Records, and re-solidifying her career via three relatively well-received singles/streams (`Miss You’, `Avalon’ and `December; the latter alongside Hannah Grace), the pop-addled singer-songwriter chalked up her long-awaited third set, DEAR HAPPY (2020) {*5}. As the title suggested, the lass’s lacquered and upbeat drive drew comparisons to the likes of contemporaries NINA NESBITT et al. And hooking up with PASSENGER-cloned JP Cooper on fan fave `Losing Me’, or coming across as a mature BILLIE EILISH on `Until The Sun Comes Up’, the former No.1 star was caught between a soft-rock and a hard-pop place; check out the anchor title track (but not single fodder `Like You Say You Do’) in order to hopefully look forward.
© MCS May2013-Jan2020

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