Jake Bugg has got nothing on Sherika Sherard. She doesn’t go about attempting to convince people of her musical authenticity. Because she is authentic, that’s who she is. This London-born singer-songwriter caught the attention of thousands – myself included – when a video of her busking went viral in 2014. Since then, her music has taken her around London and beyond UK shores. Her debut album – crowdfunded by her early supporters, and produced and mixed by Phil Holloway – represents a triumph for independence and authorship, even if the end result could use some technical adjustments.
At its heart, there is a deep-seated yearning that resonates from Sherard’s coffee-blended, inner-city tones when she sings. Her forte is the labours of love (‘Amour’) and the everyday (‘Give Me a Job’). Such themes are universal, but it’s her reference points and her delivery which make Just Saying a quiet triumph.
Be it Tube trains and tea, smug politicians and the Jobcentre, or teenage mums and wine from the corner shop, Sherard expresses a youthful Britishness that captures the spirit of her generation. And yet, in her love songs, she also reveals what an old soul she is, drawing on her musical influences, such Marvin Gaye and Joni Mitchell, to turn on the strong-willed enchantress within her. In those moments (‘Write Me a Letter’, ‘We Don’t Need a Reason’), her music is intoxicating.
Unfortunately, a handful of the songs have been mixed or supplemented in ways that upset their purity. The rhythmic and poetic excellence at the core of ‘So Sweet’ could have done with less tampering in its final mix. The electronic effects applied to the backing vocals on this track – as well as ‘Sending Kisses’ and signature song, ‘Give Me a Job’ – detract from the calm aura that flows from this girl and her guitar.
Sherard must be commended for penning all 10 of these songs herself. The fact that some of them are noticeably different from her live versions shows she is giving thought to her studio sound. Having heard stripped down versions on her 2014 EP, my feeling is that the production could be subtler in places. But, thankfully, Sherard’s songwriting remains the centrepiece. Just Saying is an encouraging start from an artist whose plucky independence is matched only by her warm-hearted humility.
Just Saying is out now, via Spinnup. It’s available to buy from Sherika Sherard’s PledgeMusic page and Bandcamp, as well as Google Play, iTunes and Amazon Music. It can also be streamed via Spotify and Apple Music.
Have you listened to this album? If so, what did you think of it? Tweet me @dk33per.
Image: Jean-Christophe Hermier