Does Britain need another breathy soul singer? A harsh question perhaps, but one that Keisha White can answer in the affirmative almost immediately, the realisation that she has far more to offer than your average vocalist. Here is a talent that might not quite have the belting voice of a Beverley Knight, but one that could bewitch you just by singing lines from the FT index.
Youthful she may be, but White possesses a maturity of voice far beyond her years. The urgency of Don’t Mistake Me is confirmation, the line “if you wanna see a broken heart, try lookin’ in another place” a hint of strength beneath the surface. She may not have exclusively written these songs herself, but Keisha has no trouble in making them her own.
Her voice, meanwhile, is an instrument of real beauty, capable on one hand of an innocence akin to Alicia Keys, but on the other able to bring a touch of urban grittiness in the style of Mary J Blige. She sounds best with less accompaniment, which means the songs with just a piano backing (the opening of Weakness In Me for instance) come off well, while the polished compositions aimed at radio smother her in a protective sheen.
Fortunately the quality of songwriting is mostly good, with not much filler around. Even in a song like Complicated Emotions, whose verse seems divorced from the chorus, the vocals make the transition less awkward than it might have been.
Where Keisha will really win over her listeners is in the sultry down tempo tracks. What’s On Your Mind gets the best delivery of these, a sultry late night track that finds her husky tones over a lazy electric piano. Why, a decent urban soul cut, is another where the effortlessly sung vocal is well worth another listen.
Of the more commercial numbers, it’s easy to see how some of the choruses could bother the higher reaches of the singles charts. Love Is The Deepest Hurt is more akin to the soulful singing of Toni Braxton, an obvious drive time song. The closing It Takes A Stronger Man, meanwhile, goes out on a gospel tip to good effect, even if the chorus is left with a bit too much sugar on its lips.
A good start for a very talented singer then, soul with an edge that deserves to push Keisha White further on the road to success.