The UK music scene is becoming synonymous with massive talents rising from the streets, with the majority of those being rap/grime artists. It is equally important then to remember that other people are doing great things with music in a different way, and one of those is soul singer/songwriter Jordan Mackampa. He has yet to release an album, but has released two EPs; Physics (2016) and Tales from the Broken (2017), with the song Yours to Keep from the former gaining a lot of traction, with over 6 million streams on Spotify to date.
Hailing from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mackampa grew up around Coventry and London, and his blend of soul and folk encapsulates a variety of raw emotions and tells tales of cities lived in. There are subtle hints of rhythm and melody from the African music played around him growing up, especially in his most recent EP, but the overall lyrical structure and consistent acoustic guitar makes for a very soulful sound. Mackampa is like a storyteller in his songwriting, for example, What Could Have Been is a song which does not contain the title within its lyrics, and for me represents how his songs are like chapters, with the book being the EP. This resonates with Mackampa’s appreciation of Nina Simeone’s view that it is the duty of an artist has to reflect the times that they are living in.
When interviewed, Mackampa comes across as well-spoken, but soft and considered, and has described his MO as “real, honest music from a guy in a hat and a guitar”, and this self-assessment rings remarkably true. Undoubtedly, he expresses almost unrefined emotion in his music, providing a sincere and refreshing sound. Physics as an EP is incredibly emotive, and whilst it is an exploration of love as an emotion, it is not heavy or leaden, and the genuine nature of the lyrics and soft backing vocals means that it is somehow simultaneously calming and thought-provoking. Tales from the Broken, is an EP of self-reflection, spliced with social commentary, and this perhaps sets it apart from Mackampa’s previous works. Again, there is a very candid nature to the songs, and in this EP there is a more of a focus on life itself. Salt is quite internally focused, and Saint has obvious notes of repentance, yet there is notable range within the four songs on the EP, with Battlecry having a higher tempo than Teardrops in a Hurricane, a song that stands out as one that questions purpose and conveys an unreserved plea.
Mackampa completed his most recent headline UK tour in December 2017, and unfortunately has no UK performance dates announced for this year other than 110 Above Festival in Leicestershire on the 3rd of August. A live EP, Live from The Grand Cru is also scheduled for release at some point this year.