FOCUS: Daisy Godfrey
Distinctive and restless without cutting the cord connecting it to its forebears, the slow-burning neo-soul of Daisy Godfrey makes her one of Nottingham’s most titillating recent exports. In the wake of recent single, Fade Away, with its sultry nods to the very best of nineties R&B, Matt Andrews reflects on the starlets’ flourishing career thus far.
The discovery of musical talent is a very intimate experience, often in a club or at an open mic, and unexpected: a voice silences the murmuring crowd, fills the room with an intangible warmth and that sense of novelty carries the performance. It’s only those first few seconds that are needed to establish the connection between artist and audience. For Daisy Godfrey, that introduction took place in the street. She busked until she was discovered by BBC Introducing’s Dean Jackson and has since established herself as a promising new talent operating both on the Nottingham circuit and, more broadly, in various venues across the country, the infamous London setting; The Jazz Café for example. Godfrey’s smoky, stripped back sound is timeless in its allusions to soul, yet refreshing and difficult to pin to one particular genre.
Having exhausted Nottingham’s various street corners by 2017, it was time for Godfrey to take to the stage and studio. Since then, the soloist has put out four singles, all of which demonstrate a versatility and growth in sound. Producing off of Running Circle, a local label held responsible for artists such as Yazmin Lacey, Godfrey has mastered a consistently breathy and stripped back sound, with songs such as Remedy perhaps being most telling of such. This is not to say, however, that she has limited herself to one particular line of sound. Take a Sec, for example, incorporates a far more adventurous inventory of sounds: live strings and horns, alongside gospel backing vocals, are what support and foreground the typically emotive vocals; the product of which is a moving ballad on the effects of love and relationships.
‘Like emotion, Godfrey lyrics are often discursive, changing shape and artfully drifting from one theme to the next.’
Lyrically very impressive, it is important to note the improvisational nature of Godfrey’s writing process. Take a Sec was conceived alongside Pete Beardsworth (producer, keys) and Jonni Scott (bass) in the former’s lounge. Godfrey is able to riff off of the chord progressions and melodies laid down by Beardsworth and Scott, and much of her lyricism comes from a spontaneous articulation of emotion. It might be said that such even grants Godfrey’s lyrics a greater sense of authenticity: like emotion, her lyrics are often discursive, changing shape and artfully drifting from one theme to the next seemingly without any particular driving force, yet, when set to music they manage to maintain a continuity of a general feeling and emotion.
The lyrics of her debut single, Remedy, for example, “I’ve tried my best to be your remedy, but I’ve gone cold for you my love/ I’ve gone cold” are relatively simple, yet are able to provoke such intense emotions in the listener in combination with music and through her own emotive execution. This is an ode, perhaps, to two things: firstly, the synergy found in simple instrumentation and lyricism when executed effectively, the second is this idea of ‘soul’ itself, an approach to music so emotive and so intense that it consumes artist and listener alike. Godfrey has cited Lauryn Hill as one of her many musical influences, and the emphasis on emotion particularly in her later work is telling of the power of ‘soul.’ Hill describes such an abstraction as “the thickness of sound... that human element.” ‘Soul’ is difficult to define (ask Gil Scott Heron), but it’s instantly recognisable when it is present, and it is inescapable in Godfrey’s music.
Perhaps the most exciting of Godfrey’s qualities as a musician is the freedom she possesses at this embryonic moment in her career. Already established as versatile, Godfrey is almost unpredictable in terms of the construction of her music. Whatever the instrumentation, whatever the lyricism, it is difficult not to expect powerful and stirring music. Following a similar path to Yazmin Lacey, an artist who has now appeared alongside Jorja Smith and Ezra Collective, Godfrey has demonstrated an exciting amount of promise; this is soul from NG1.
Written by: Matt Andrews
Edited by: Olivia Stock
Featured image courtesy of Daisy Godfrey via Facebook.