Essex native Connor Selby is one of the current crop of young singer-songwriters flying the flag for British blues and has been the recipient of the Young Blues Artist of the Year no less than three times. This month sees the reissue of his eponymous album, first appearing in 2021 as a self-released effort and currently as a deluxe version with four extra tracks now, he is signed to Provogue, part of the Mascot Label Group.
Connor Selby – Connor Selby, Deluxe Edition (Provogue)
Release Date: Out Now
Words: Liz Medhurst
He’s not confining himself to the pure blues market. There is clearly an eye on the blues-rock crossover here. Connor’s been spotted opening for Pearl Jam and The Who and is currently on tour with Beth Hart. His sound, however, is very much firmly based in the soulful blues arena.
Stylistically, Ray Charles is the name that springs to mind immediately on first listen, not only because My Baby Don’t Dig Me, one of the bonus tracks, is a Ray Charles cover – this vibe is heard across several tracks. There’s also Stax, elements of Clapton, particularly on the groove of Emily, and hints of Californian folk in the acoustic work.
This all gives the album a timeless quality, and Connor’s voice is mature and spiced with a degree of world-weariness that is initially surprising given his clean-cut good looks. He can certainly play guitar well, and he’s no slouch in the songwriting department, either.
These are long songs and yet well-crafted, so there’s no feeling of lag, and there’s enough variety to hold the attention, such as Starting Again, which builds the atmosphere and layers nicely. There’s a good use of backing vocals and horns here and there across the fourteen tracks to keep the interest too.
He’s surrounded himself with a high-quality band as well, with hats off to the keyboard and piano work of Liam Dunachie, whose flourishes drew several spontaneous and satisfied declarations of ‘oh, now that’s nice’ throughout each listen.
There’s not a lot of risk-taking on this album, but the overall effect is smooth and polished. While not massively original – Love Letter To The Blues comes across as a bit blues by numbers – this thoroughly solid album performed at this standard hints at huge potential ahead.
Ultimately this album gives a really pleasant Sunday afternoon or summer evening ambience. There’s no need to drink your bourbon raw while listening – indulge in a Manhattan or at least a decent merlot.
Connor Selby – track list
- I Can’t Let You Go
- Falling In Love Again
- If You’re Gonna Leave Me
- The Man I Ought To Be
- Hear My Prayer
- Show Me A Sign
- Waitin’ On The Day
- Starting Again
- I Shouldn’t Care (Bonus Track)
- Love Letter To The Blues (Bonus Track)
- My Baby Don’t Dig Me (Bonus Track)
- The Deep End (Bonus Track)