Sometimes good things pop up in the most random of places. Laura-Jayne Hunter is an example of such a gem. We discovered this extremely talented artist at Hexham Abbey Festival of Music & Arts in Northumberland two years ago and we feel that now is a good time to share the love with you.
Picture the scene: a tiny provincial art deco cinema with an audience of around 200 locals, most of whom have parted with coin of the realm to see Landermason, a highly esteemed Northumbrian jazz/folk fusion duo who have a considerable following on their own ‘scene’. Supporting Landermason is a recent graduate of Leeds College of Music, a native of Northern Ireland who had recently competed to represent Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest.
Despite the intimate surroundings, Laura-Jayne Hunter managed that much sought-after effect of being physically dwarfed by the stage and spotlight yet filling the space with her own special brand of musical magic. Hence why we felt that talent just had to be shared.
Laura-Jayne Hunter began performing in local TV shows at the tender age of six and has been writing, singing and playing guitar professionally since she was 16. She has cut her teeth with some high-profile artists, having provided backing vocals for the likes of VV Brown, Alexandra Burke and Beverley Knight, and graced the stage at the Royal Albert Hall.
So, what precisely is it that gets us waxing lyrical about this unassuming artist? In a nutshell, she is immensely talented. Imagine a blend of Björk, Massive Attack and Imogen Heap and you are almost there. Combining an astounding command of a live loop station, prodigious guitar skills and immaculate vocals, it’s enough to send shivers down the most cynical of spines. Many of Hunter’s tracks begin with a simple deep intake of breath or a ‘do-do-do’, looped throughout the track and then meshed with further layers of sounds to create a melange of delicious harmonies. Upon first listening, the immediate question that springs to mind is ’how does she manage to coordinate all of those elements at the same time?’.
As well as writing and performing her own material – the best of which includes the luscious track ‘Free’, a heart-wrenchingly simple ode to bereavement (‘Free now / In peace you’re shining / I’m happy for you / Though I’m still crying … Our loss is Heaven’s gain / And it’s in Heaven that I’ll see you again, my friend’) – Hunter produces captivating interpretations of diverse numbers from ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ to ‘Pure Imagination’ – yes, that track from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. It really shouldn’t work, but it does.
Hunter’s seemingly untiring determination to experiment and innovate is what sets her apart from the commercial conveyor belt X Factor rejects who have pervaded the public consciousness over the last decade. Talent like this deserves to be heralded from the roof-tops. We’ve done our bit – over to you.
You can find out more about Laura-Jayne Hunter on her official website.