|“McVey balances big choruses and pop hooks with modest, organic production… the songs have a genuine presence and warm atmosphere.” – The Line of Best Fit
“Emotional, raw, and personal — a compelling offering of acoustic pop that sets McVey apart from the crowd.” – Wonderland
|James McVey is best known for his chart-topping, arena-filling success with The Vamps, and while that’s a big part of who he is, it’s certainly not all he is. As we’ve heard on his first two solo tracks, ‘Blood and Bones’ and ‘Dancing on the Head of a Needle’, James is also a singer-songwriter highly attuned to expressing more introspective emotions. In a sound that echoes his appreciation of the likes of Damien Rice, Glen Hansard and Dermot Kennedy, James has opened his emotions to unveil heartfelt truths about love, mental health struggles and plenty more.
Now James follows those two singles with today’s release of his debut solo EP ‘Manabi’. The title – a Japanese word that translates as “learning from study” – is indicative of the process that James underwent while writing and recording its six songs. The project started when James was silenced as he recovered from career-saving surgery on his vocal cords, and he grew in confidence as the project unfolded. He learned to accept that life is a journey of balancing its many highs and lows.
James’ wife is the muse behind the EP’s opening track, ‘Blood and Bones’, and while the subject matter of the songs moves into other territory, she’s never far from his thoughts. She’s there in the calm, folky romance of ‘Strength in Numbers’ and also the complex emotions ‘Dance Or Die’ which attempts to appreciate the quiet beauties in life when its turmoil threatens to overwhelm you. That song also provides the EP’s final words, which succinctly summarise the collection’s quest for self-improvement: “It might take an hour, a week, a month: this is day one.”
All six songs on the ‘Manabi’ EP were written and produced by James, with select collaborators including Amy Wadge (Ed Sheeran, Sam Ryder, Camilla Cabello), James Walsh of Starsailor and Alex Stacey (Ella Henderson).
James will celebrate the release of the EP by playing his first sold-out solo show at Hoxton Hall tonight, with proceeds going to the mental health charity ‘Mind’, who provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem, and who campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding of mental health issues. James plans to release more solo music in 2024.