While many people may not yet have heard of S.E.L. or to give her, her real name, Emma Louise Bucknor, that could and should be, all be about to change. S.E.L’s new single Daydream has just been released. It’s the latest offering from one of the hottest names in the UK’s Nu-Soul and Nu-Jazz scenes. In many ways, it’s as if all her life, S.E.L. has been working towards forging a career in music. All her life, from the age of six, S.E.L. has been immersed in music. Before I tell you about Daydream. I’ll tell you about S.E.L’s career so far.
Before being transformed into S.E.L, Emma Louise Bucknor’s life was dominated by music. She started playing piano and violin aged just six. Five years later, aged just eleven, S.E.L. made her professional debut. Surprisingly, given her background, it was neither playing piano nor violin. Instead, S.E.L. made her debut as a vocalist. This didn’t stop her from becoming a classically trained musician. Qualifications in music and performing arts followed, before S.E.L. headed to university. It was during a degree in music, that S.E.L. joined her first group.
At university, S.E.L. was asked to join a new girl group, Lyrical Force. They enjoyed some success, performing professionally. Then S.E.L. decided to pursue a solo career. Having left Lyrical Force, S.E.L. she quickly established a reputation as a gifted and up and coming artist. Soon, S.E.L. had established a reputation as versatile singer, equally comfortable singing rap as R&B. This lead to S.E.L. working with a variety of producers, including Mind Set Entertainment. Having decided to leave Lyrical Force, then pursue a solo career, S.E.L. decided to join another group.
Soul Essence was the group that made S.E.L. decide to forego her solo career. Not only did this provide her with the opportunity to work with artists of the stature of Omar and IceBurg Slim, but gain a wealth of experience. Then the members of Soul Essence decided they wanted to embark on their own projects. So S.E.L. was now without a group. Then Delroy Murray offered her the chance to gain some valuable insight and experience that would help her career no end.
It was during S.E.L’s third year at university, that she met Delroy Murray. She was given the chance to get some work experience the Music Corporation. This allowed S.E.L. the opportunity to discover how the music industry worked. It also gave her the chance to sing with Delroy Murray’s band. S.E.L. was part of his band during shows like 291 and Lovers Rock Reunion. She sung alongside Michael Gordon and Paulette Tajah. This gave S.E.L. the opportunity to join Tahiltha Voices, where she sang alongside Toyin Adekade. They then toured with George Nooks, Lukie D and Sanchez. Then S.E.L. was given the chance to work with a legend of British music and join their family.
It was in 2005 that S.E.L. was asked by Jazzie B to join the ranks of Soul II Soul’s backing vocalists. She was following in the footsteps of legendary vocalists like Carleen Anderson, Rose Windross and Caron Wheeler. Working with Soul II Soul gave S.E.L. invaluable experience. Not only had she worked with one of the innovators of British music Jazzie B, but was now part of the Soul II Soul family. That wasn’t S.E.L’s only encounter with legends of British music.
Between 2005 and 2010 S.E.L. worked as a backing vocalist and vocal arranger. This allowed her to work with a variety of musicians and gain a wealth of experience. Then in 2011, S.E.L. was signed to Elton John’s label Rocket Records. but not as a singer. Instead, she was signed to cowrite Jake Simms’ debut album. This allowed S.E.L. to showcase her songwriting skills. The next time S.E.L. would write a song, would be for herself.
Having gained experience working with and for some of the biggest names in British music, 2012 saw all S.E.L’s hard work, perseverance and persistence pay off. She signed to Cubit Records, a subsidiary of Universal. Her debut single Necessary was released to critical acclaim. Canada, China, Europe, Japan and South Africa were won over by S.E.L’s vocal prowess. At last, S.E.L. had announced herself on the world stage. In doing so, she’d garnered a reputation as a rising star of the British Nu-Soul and Nu-Jazz scenes. It seemed her hard work had paid off. Building on the success of Necessary is S.E.L. new single Daydream, which I’ll now tell you about.
Given the quality and success of Necessary, Daydream has a lot to live up to. Somehow S.E.L. manages to do so. From the opening bars, when stabs of keyboards and washes of synths combine to create a dramatic backdrop. Then when S.E.L’s vocal enters, it’s heartfelt, impassioned and dramatic. It’s as if she really means every word she sings. Her vocal grows in drama, emotion and power, with her band matching her every step of the way. The rhythm section, with pounding drums providing its heartbeat, join wistful horns, synths and keyboards. Waves of searing guitar licks and punchy harmonies join the arrangement, as S.E.L. grows, reaching an emotive, impassioned crescendo. Soul, jazz and even rock combine, as S.E.L. and her band create a track that’s not just anthemic and beautiful, but dynamic and dramatic.
It wasn’t going to be easy for S.E.L. to followup such an impressive debut single as Necessary. It was something of a soulful masterpiece. However, not only has S.E.L. matched the quality of Necessary, but bettered it. Daydream has something that not many songs have, great lyrics, hooks aplenty and to top it all, an anthemic quality. The more you play Daydream, the more you realize this. S.E.L’s delivery is heartfelt, impassioned and dramatic. Her voice has a maturity, and is soulfulness personified. She’s a talented singer and songwriter, whose more than paid her dues. Over the past ten years, S.E.L. has persevered and persisted. All the time she’s been learning. Knowledge certainly is power as far as the music industry is concerned. Certainly S.E.L. has gained plenty knowledge, to add to her experience. One vital thing S.E.L. doesn’t lack is talent. Daydream her new single is proof of this, and builds on the success and critical acclaim of Necessary. 2012 has been a big year for S.E.L. and I’m certain 2013 will be an even bigger one.