sat 15/06/2024

CD: Maverick Sabre – Lonely Are the Brave | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Maverick Sabre – Lonely Are the Brave

CD: Maverick Sabre – Lonely Are the Brave

Can the impish pop-soul hope strike gold with his debut album?

Cutting edge: modern retro-soul at its sharpest from Maverick Sabre

I don't know if Mark Ronson was too busy or too expensive to produce Maverick Sabre's debut album, but although his name does not feature in the credits the spirit of the mixmeister behind Back to Black looms large here. Which is both a plus and a minus. If you loved the immaculate retro-soul of Amy Winehouse – and Plan B's soulman rebirth – you will love 21-year-old Michael Stafford's impressive stab at the same sub-genre. If you don't? Poor you.

I'm sure there is someone from The X Factor to meet your musical needs.

Lonely are the Brave has much going for it. For starters, Stafford has a punchy pair of soulful R&B lungs. Slightly mannered on the opener "I Need", but they soon settle down for "Let Me Go", a sumptuous blast of brassy pop referencing everything from John Barry to Portishead. This Hackney-born kid has bags of passion and, frequently, anger at society’s ills – on "Shooting the Stars" he considers police brutality and "officers scratching of their numbers so they can't be identified", while "Cold Games" addresses gun crime.

But this album is ultimately more about broken hearts than Broken Britain. "No One" – the most Winehouse-whiffy track – is a typically infectious singalong about betrayal: "All I ever picture is you with him." Stafford calls his style "hip-hop inspired soulful folk music", but that barely scratches the surface. Shuffling breakbeats constantly collide with rock melodies. He has previously covered “Wonderwall” and the woozy "These Days" recalls the rhythmic cadences of Oasis. This is a raw, powerful album that beautifully blends of old and new. The PR machine behind Maverick Sabre is pushing this as one for grannies as well as groovers. I wouldn’t go that far. Unless, of course, your gran has excellent taste. 

Maverick Sabre performs "I Need"



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