New artists got a raw deal in 2020. Many of the ones we tipped at the beginning of last year were held back by the absence live shows, unable to demonstrate their talents to potential new fans, bookers and label scouts. Yet they continued to persevere, with singers such as Arlo Parks still managing to make a mark with EPs and Singles. And there’s more to look forward to in 2021, as we pick our favourite new singers, rappers and multi-instrumentalists to keep an eye on.
While everyone was talking about Miley Cyrus and her Cranberries covers, 21-year-old Irish artist Amy Montomery was honing her craft as one of the most exciting new rock singers in years. Her voice has a weight and grit that belies her youth, with a vocal style inspired by powerhouses such as Sharon Van Etten and Alanis Morissette. “Intangible”, her most recent single, is about her mother, who took her own life when Montgomery was just 16 years old. It’s a resplendent work of Ninteties-inspired alt-rock, built on a grungy, squalling guitar hook and sun-drenched piano notes. Despite the heart-wrenching subject matter, the song is as life-affirming as it gets – about how our loved ones find ways to stay with us always – and that’s a theme that runs through all of Montgomery’s music.