For the first time this year a record is due for release that has me almost breathless with anticipation, excited about the prospect that I’m going to spend the summer appreciating it and perhaps best of all keen to use my own privileged platform to sing the praises of someone who deserves her merits to be shouted from the rooftops. Except that I can’t wait that long, and after spending the next fortnight dropping hints on Twitter and Facebook updates there is an itch I need to scratch. So let’s do it now.
Because I am an unabashed, enthusiastic and not a little smitten Little Boots fan. These are the reasons why:
First and foremost she is talented, and whilst that should go without saying (almost) it is a point that you have to hammer home. Little Boots spent the last year before fame beckoned posting a series of YouTube clips of her singing and playing at a keyboard in her bedroom. Some were interpretations of older hits, some were the early versions of her own songs but every single one is evidence of someone who would instantly be at home on a far greater stage and whose gift outshone even those modest surroundings.
There was no better illustration of this than the video she posted the day she received as a gift the device that has rapidly become her performing trademark. Her Tenori-on handheld sequencer quickly became her instrument of choice, the perfect accompaniment to her crystal clear vocals and lasting proof that she can write songs of simple beauty yet which sound like they should be rendered as epics.
What makes this all the more magical is that current attempts to glamorise her notwithstanding, Victoria Hesketh remains almost defiantly and resolutely ordinary. Her personality is imbued with a charming geekiness and her interviews are all conducted in a down to earth Blackpool accent that reminds you that for all the hype and all the projections of stardom she remains the typical girl next door with few airs, graces or pretences.
All this before we’ve even spoken about her music itself. There are more than a few eyebrows raised by the choice of the strident ‘New In Town’ as her first single proper. Having previewed the album I can understand why it was chosen, a brash radio-friendly track with a proper chorus and exactly the kind of track music execs believe should be used to launch a new artist, but the fact remains that the song is far from typical of the rest of her work and in many ways manages to undersell just what she is capable of.
For a better impression, check out the original ‘Little Boots EP’ which had a low key online release at the start of this year and which can be heard in full on Spotify or We7 and the like. As well as the “proper” studio version of ‘Stuck On Repeat’ and eletropop stormer ‘Mathematics’ there is a stripped to the bone rendition of ‘Meddle’ performed with nothing more than a drum machine and the Tenori-on set to emulate a piano. The track is like hearing rehearsal footage, showing off the simple purity and clarity of her voice to perfect effect.
All that before we’ve even come to its crowning glory –‘Love Kills’. As her YouTube postings demonstrate, quite aside from her own songwriting prowess Little Boots is a masterful interpreter of other people’s work. In her hands the little-remembered Freddie Mercury solo track (recorded for the Giorgio Moroder remake of ‘Metropolis’ back in 1984) becomes one of the best pop records of the year, a lavish lush production over which her vocals soar and leaving you almost drained with emotion by the time of the arresting climax. Release this as a single and it would be a Top 5 smash for months, but why bother releasing a cover when your own material is even stronger?
There is a risk, when you have been “in to” something for an extended period of time, that you become jaded. I’ve been an enthusiastic consumer of popular music for the best part of 25 years now and you reach a point where you fear that you have run out of things to get excited about. That is why discovering someone as inspiring as Little Boots is something of a joy, a reminder that even if you are tempted to think you have heard it all before there is always a chance that something can come along to remind you just how wrong you are.
So that’s the tale of my unashamed admiration of Little Boots and why I can’t just wait for the weekend and the arrival of ‘New In Town’ on the singles chart to tell the world about her. Few and far between are the albums I’ve been motivated to purchase on the day they appear in the shops, yet you can all but guarantee I’ll be first in the queue for Little Boots.
Good luck Victoria, I can’t wait to see where this takes you.