By Harry Bedford, Music Editor
Si Cranstoun was given a recording contract earlier this year at the age of 39 after two decades of working the London music scene. Despite the singer-songwriter – from Caterham, Surrey – working the scene for 20 years, he actually sounds like he has come to the charts 60 years too late. His soul style is much more akin to the likes of Jackie Wilson and The Drifter than anyone else today. Nevertheless his optimistic, upbeat music is a refreshing change from some synth-ladened numbers we tend to hear on the radio, his arrangements tending to favour a horn section and doo-wop-style backing vocals instead.
He made his first stab at the charts earlier this year with ‘Caught In the Moonlight’, a Buble-esq song that he penned with Tony Macaulay who wrote ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’. The song is a very innocent love song with tuneful verses and an uplifting chorus. Making it on to the Radio 2 A-Playlist, it won him praise and cemented his place as a big-hitter in the music industry. Since then Cranstoun has released his first album, Modern Life, and his second single, the ultra-catchy ‘Dance For Evermore’. And ahead of him are several TV appearance, so it’s safe to save that he’s on cloud nine at the moment.
His musical style is very much rooted in 1950s. The obvious artist to liken him to, because he even name checks him in a few songs, is Jackie Wilson. Wilson’s soulful and energetic vocal style is emulated to perfection by Cranstoun and even Wilson’s son gave his seal of approval. Cranstoun employs a horn section and backing singers that really give his music the feel of the 50s R ‘n’ B of artists like Sam Cooke, The Drifters and of course Jackie Wilson himself.
His debut album, Modern Life, is an fun-filled parade of gleeful tunes about love, love and more love. You could say that there was a certain ‘cheesiness’ to the LP but I’d argue that is the point. Cranstoun is no idiot, he could quite easily write some downbeat numbers with deep lyrical content but where’s the fun in that; He knows his audience, and he knows exactly what they want.
However his live show is a different kettle of fish. He explodes on to the stage and transports you back to the 1950s as he manages to get every single person in the room tapping their feet and smiling with joy at his presence. The cheeky chap charisma blends with his effortless superb singing and it’s clear you know you are seeing a star in the making. Highlights of his album include ‘Shout Out’, ‘Never Gonna Let You Go’ and ‘Gods of Love’. While his live show is peppered with such classic covers as Ray Charles’ ‘I Got A Woman’ and Sam Cooke’s ‘Twisting The Night Away’. Si Cranstoun won’t be responsible for a musical revolution any time soon, but what he does do is deliver feelgood music, and there’s always going to be a market for that.