I’ve always been a huge advocate of events that allow upcoming, unsigned acts the chance to have the light shine on them. Whether those events come in the form of an open mic night, youth event, or sponsored event, I really don’t care, so long as the spotlight is shining on talent that may otherwise not get the opportunity to take centre stage.
I try and attend these events wherever possible, but over the last few months I’ve had the opportunity to do so more than usual, and the talent I’ve been discovering has been really incredible. The most recent event I attended was Collide at the Royal Albert Hall. A show put on by the Young Producers, it was an event to highlight not just musicians, but also fashion, for those between 18-25.
I purposefully did as little research into the event as possible. Other than one performer – Kadiata – I had absolutely no idea about the other acts. I went in with a completely open mind as to what to expect form the evening, hoping that something would just grab my attention. I got that, in the form of Esther Durin.
A singer-songwriter with a modern, relatable R&B/Soul sound, Esther Durin performed an incredible set on the night which got my ears raised and made me leave the event in search of her work online, where I came across her EP ‘Mood Vol. 1’. A 4-track project which embodies what inspires her – Neo-Soul fused with R&B and Gospel – the EP features tracks which explore relationships, spirituality and rejection in a way that’s relatable to younger ears.
R&B can often be soppy or extremely over-saturated with cringe appeal, but Esther’s sound and lyrics especially do well to break that down and create an incredible set of tracks. Drawing inspiration not only from her personal life, but also that of people around her, the tracks explore things that most of us have experienced ourselves, as opposed to the apparent world-ending heartbreak that a lot of R&B singers use in their music.
‘Airing Me’ is the opening track, which delves into being – you guessed it – being aired (we’ve all been there). With a stripped back minimal backing, Esther glides her voice over the track calmly and smoothly. The track leads into the second, and my personal favourite from the project ‘Deeper’ – a track which really emphasises Esther’s Neo-Soul influences and inspiration. As soon as the track kicks in, there’s almost a warmth oozing from the sound, yet still it’s a fresh, mellow sound.
Relationships and spirituality are bought side-by-side in this track, “Can you love me like God loves me?”. It’s a battle of the mind, between desire and higher belief “Wanna fight this feeling, I don’t want no sexual healing, I want that spiritual feeling”. Not only is this track a demonstration of Esther’s ability to create a great-sounding, yet thought-provoking song, but it’s also an incredible demonstration of her vocal ability and range.
‘Friendzone’ is once again a track that I think most young people can relate to – being in the friend zone. A more relaxed track, Esther’s voice carries with it a real genuine feeling. There’s emotion as she she transitions from the opening hook, through the verse and spikes into the close of the track.
The final track on the project ‘Not About You’ reminded me of Corinne Bailey Rae when I first listened to it. I can’t quite accurately describe what it is about that song that does it, but the refreshing, chilled vibe to the track is a part of it. It’s a track that rounds off the project perfectly.
‘Mood Vol. 1’ as a whole project is fantastic. There’s no other way to describe it. Despite being a small project, it has so much replay value. Having relatable lyrics that don’t overdramatise or promote cringe simply to push the track means you don’t get the almost sickly-sweet aftertaste that a lot of R&B unfortunately provides. It’s a project that showcases Esther’s talent, not only as a singer, but also as a very talented songwriter who knows how to captivate and create relevant and refreshing tracks that can keep a listener engaged.