For anyone who wants to shake up the playlists from time to time, a go-to is the COLORXSTUDIOS shows on YouTube. They provide a platform for up-and-coming artists, who perform with just a microphone and a coloured background reflective of their sound. Delivering her velvety vocals on the record ‘Strange’ back in 2019, Celeste captivated listeners in front of a mauve backdrop with her melancholy lyrics expressing the feeling of loss when someone you once loved is now simply a stranger. Since then, she has been on an upward trajectory to become one of the most exciting new faces in modern British music.
From taking the top spot as BBC Music’s Sound of 2020, to having a violin rendition of one of her tracks made into the love-tune of a steamy scene between the two Bridgerton leads, the last couple of years have been huge for the 26-year-old. Though originally born in LA, Celeste grew up in the quiet sea-side town of Saltdean, near Brighton, where she taught herself to sing and write. Showing the BBC round her hometown, she revealed happily that her first music video featured a £1 shirt she scooped up in her local charity shop.
Despite her sweet demeanour, her debut album ‘Not Your Muse’ is a self-assured with styles of modern soul intertwined with jazz pop. Packed with 22 love songs, Celeste explores her relationships from a strong stance, with ‘Father’s Son’ as an example displaying her affinity to men and masculinity while still embracing her soft and sensual side. ‘Lately’ stood out as a reflection of the general mood in lockdown, with lyrics ‘lately I’ve been thinking about the ways to shake my life up’ echoing our collective need to have things to look forward to.
Her most recognisable, ‘A Little Love’, which featured on the highly anticipated John Lewis and Waitrose Christmas ad, was our first introduction to her smooth soulful sound, with gentle piano and echoing high-notes allowing us to escape into her dream-like world. The accompanying music video sees Celeste as a spinning toy box figure with her distinctive parted natural curls and sweeping eyeliner, also displayed in the album’s artwork.
While her collaboration with Jon Baptise on ‘It’s All Right’ for the Disney movie Soul is an uplifting, bouncy tune, her more authentic sound comes out in ‘Beloved’, similar to Adele’s ‘21’, her powerhouse vocals giving a fresh twist yet somehow sounding classic. The most captivating moments of the album are where her voice cracks a little and the delivery of the lyrics feel raw and personal.
The up-beat jazzy sounds of ‘Tonight Tonight’ and ‘Love is Back’ also help to create more uplifting moments, a welcome contrast to some of the more sombre, raspy pieces. However, with ‘Stop This Flame’ currently being the used for the Sky Sports Premier League coverage, at times her tunes risk feeling a little too poppy and skippable. Nevertheless, her soulful voice is both strong and unique and as the album is currently heading the charts, it’s clear that Celeste’s success is only just beginning. It will be exciting to watch her refine her sound as she asserts her place in the UK music scene and undoubtably beyond.