Josh Spring
The Silhouette

1. Sampha

Sampha is best known for lending his smooth, soulful vocals to Drake’s “Too Much” and “The Motion.” However, his EPs and acoustic session have proven that he is much more than a chorus man.

Sampha’s early recordings, released on his Sundanza EP, sound like a funky, frenetic arcade-cum-dance-bar. On his 2013 releases, Dual and Too Much/Happens, Sampha brings it back to the basics. One piano, one microphone, one man, and his soul. This is minimal music, permeated with a lonely urgency. Piano, vocals and the occasional drum beat are all Sampha needs.

With a diverse array of sounds under his belt, he will no doubt continue to croon and swoon in 2014.

2. Jessy Lanza

Hailing from our very own Hamilton, Ontario, Jessy Lanza released her bold debut album, Pull My Hair Back, in late 2013. She is the lone songstress on Hyperdub, the prolific London-based label, known best for its instrumental electronic artists. This is a testament to her musical talent.

Jessy makes amorphous electro-R&B. Synthesized arpeggios flutter beneath her breathy vocals, which pulse with a diffident sexiness. She experiments with a variety of sounds on her debut, ranging from funk to trap.

Stay on the lookout; she is likely to bless her hometown with a(nother) live show soon.

3. FKA Twigs

FKA twigs is sexy. The vocals on “Weak Spot,” the first song on her first EP are spoken almost entirely in a seductive whisper. It is not until the end of the song that we hear twigs sing. Or rather, moan, a sensuous, melodic moan. This is aphrodisiac music.

The breathy vocals that permeate the rest of her two EPs (aptly named EP and EP2) strike a seemingly discordant balance between dominance and vulnerability. It works for twigs. Her voice floats atop sparse production, lending to the ethereal intimacy that is so often a part of sex. Here’s hoping that 2014 brings us more of FKA twigs’ sultry, tripped-out R&B.

4. SOHN

SOHN’s music is haunting, mournful, and melancholic. His electro-soul sound lies somewhere between The Weeknd’s brooding moodscapes and Rhye’s lamenting love songs.

A native of London, England, SOHN now lives in a quiet neighbourhood in Vienna. His music is reflective of this environmental shift. It is minimal, punctuated by empty space. Infrequently, songs will build to a dense climax, reminiscent of London’s cramped chaos.

SOHN has dropped two EPs, The Wheel and Bloodflows. He has an LP slated for release in 2014. Catch him in Toronto on May 14 if you’re around. If you aren’t, wait patiently for his debut album.

5. SZA

SZA is the first female artist signed to the powerhouse American hip-hop label Top Dawg Entertainment (or TDE), alongside prolific artists including Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q.

If that is not enough to convince you of her artistry, one listen through of either of her EPs will. See.SZA.Run and S are filled with woozy, synth-drenched soundscapes carried by SZA’s dreamy vocals. This is outer-space-wavy R&B that would be easily complemented with a blunt on a summer’s evening.

TDE CEO Anthony Tiffith has announced that the entire roster will release solo albums in 2014. Stay tuned for SZA’s.

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