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Beth Rowley: The lowdown on a new British singing talent

Beth Rowley

Feature by Jack Foley

MEET Beth Rowley… Armed with a timeless voice, smouldering sound and femme-fatale look, she’s one of Britain’s most exciting young artists.

Born to British parents in Peru and raised in Bristol, the 26 year-old singer/songwriter is a vision of modern music with the powerhouse vocals of a stellar soul songstress.

A mainstay of her local live circuit, she releases the irresistible EP Violets on December 3.

Fusing a vintage sound & sensibility with a joyous, contemporary edge, she’s the result of her many influences – and much, much more. A dynamo taster of the forthcoming LP Little Dreamer, expected early 2008, Violets hints at the wealth of talent she possesses.

“For me the EP and album come from the heart,” she comments. “My main objective was to capture an old sound in a new, exciting way – and I think we’ve achieved that.

“I grew up with my dad playing guitar and old Woody Guthrie vinyls,” continues Beth. “That’s what sparked the flame. We used to sit round and sing the blues, so it all went from there – funny how it’s always little things that make big things happen.”

Spotted at an open mic night in Bristol’s The Old Duke at just 17, Beth later trained at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music.

“I cut my teeth on the live circuit, which – for me – was the only way to do it. I then spent a year at the BIMM, where I met singer Carleen Anderson and developed my own sound.”

After teaming up with saxophonist Ben Castle (Duke Special/Jamie Cullum) in 2000, she worked with him on numerous projects, which ultimately led her to Violets – a dazzling EP of heart-breaking vocals and lush, organic sounds.

Produced by Steve Power (Blur) and Kevin Bacon & Jonathan Quarmby (Richard Hawley, Finlay Quaye), the 4 EP tracks demand attention.

From the glorious Only One Cloud and shimmering, scratchy blues feel of Sweet Hours – both of which Beth co-wrote – to the smokey sound of the revamped Nobody’s Fault But Mine, it’s essential listening.

As is her soaring interpretation of Bob Dylan’s I Shall Be Released – which effortlessly does justice to the original.

“I love that old-school sound of PP Arnold and the Ronettes, so there had to be some kind of throwback to that, but we also worked hard on getting the balance right,” she continued. “It’s a real leveller between the past and the present – and somewhere in between my sound emerged.”

Live dates will be announced shortly. But in the meantime, why not visit b>Beth’s website or check out our b>photo gallery