A young musician walks on to the Acoustic Stage at Glastonbury. Guitar in hand, it’s a usual sight at music festivals, so the focus shifts from the guitar to the voice. For Gabrielle Aplin, her shy, soft vocals intertwine with light piano chords and fluttering guitar riffs. An appearance on a John Lewis advert plus a solid debut album, English Rain, defined her style as calm, upbeat folk. Yet now, her latest single, Miss You, sees her break away from the world of folk, dabbling into the mainstream and overpopulated world of dance music.
Is this Aplin succumbing to the latest musical trends in order to gain more listeners? Hopefully not. Although, the world of synth heavy dance/club music is dominated by the likes of the soulful Becky Hill or the sassy Zara Larsson. The genre is over-saturated with generic or powerful vocals, because that’s what pop music tends to demand. Beautifully smooth and mellow, Gabrielle’s tone isn’t something we usually hear in this genre. Miss You may detract from her earlier work, but it’s a successful move for the Panic Cord singer.
At first, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s another traditional song from Aplin – a brief piano melody having the possibility of fooling some listeners. That is, until off-beat synth chords and a bouncy drum beat are introduced alongside Gabrielle’s vocals. Throughout the track, the lyrics fluctuate around the single’s distinctive rhythm. It’s when the line And I won’t let go oh (or its variant, And I won’t let go again) matches the staccato synth chords in the chorus that Aplin’s emotion is truly emphasised.
Whilst the style is different, once again, the focus has always been on Gabrielle Aplin’s unique vocal style, which remains emotive and unchanged even when the singer tries out a new musical genre. Miss You is a risky move by the artist, but one perfectly and cleverly executed.