The rising U.K. singer makes one hell of a U.S. debut
American artist and icon Bob Ross used to say that “we don’t make mistakes, we have happy accidents.” This was indeed the case when I received an email from a publicist asking the Niner Times to cover the concert of an upcoming artist from the U.K. Despite not being able to attend the show, which was in Chicago, I listened to the artist, Jacob Banks, and was immediately impressed. When I found out he was releasing a single, I was excited.
Jacob Banks, 25, is a singer/songwriter from Birmingham, England via Nigeria. In a 2012 interview with ILUVLIFE, he described his music as “soul, but more intimate, more passionate.” He’s right; his music does sound like soul, specifically that of American artists from the 50’s and 60’s such as Otis Redding and Sam Cooke. However, he adds his own spin by combining it with African rhythms and beats. More recently, in an interview with Interview, Banks described his music as “digital soul,” which describes this new song perfectly. A man of many talents, Banks also self-produces much of his music.
The first song of Banks’ that I heard was his popular “Monster 2.0,” and I was curious how his new song, “Unholy War,” would compare. It turns out not very much. Aside from the distinct soul vibe, they have nothing in common, which is something I am actually thankful for as it shows variability on the part of the artist. Where “Monster 2.0” is grungy and melodic, “Unholy War” is much more classic rock & roll. The driving piano that starts the song and continues throughout it is perfectly matched with the blues-like guitar that interrupts it. The percussion and Banks’ soulful crooning add the swaying vibe that makes this song perfect for practically any situation.
Despite this being Banks’ official debut in the U.S., he has made quite a splash both here and in the U.K. He has toured with Emeli Sandé and Alicia Keys. Additionally, he was the first unsigned artist to perform on BBC’s Radio 1 Live Lounge before signing with Interscope Records. Currently, he is supporting LÉON on her North American tour. Unfortunately, I can’t make it to that Chicago show, but I sincerely wish I could because Banks is an incredible artist. My being sent that invitation was not a mistake but a happy accident because I was introduced to an artist who I will be listening to for quite some time in the future.