Michael Stafford, more commonly known as Maverick Sabre is one of my favourite upcoming UK artists and at this stage it seems unfair to even use the word upcoming! After guest vocals on Jungle with Professor Green, the incredible Fire In Your Eyes with Chase & Status and two brilliant singles (I Need & Let Me Go), Mav is rapidly becoming an accustomed name at the forefront of UK R&B /soul. Unlike a lot of artists who complete an album every year, Mav’s debut album has been long in the making. Both “Memories” and “Sometimes” are from the 2010 “Travelling Man” mixtape but the rest is entirely new material, even though Mav confessed some of the songs were written when he was no older than 17! Clearly, his expressive words, mind blowing vocal talent and stage presence meant he was destined for stardom!
I always get intrigued by an artist’s first line on their debut album so it seems fitting to start with a familiar yet spirit uplifting track – “I Need”. Straight away listeners are marvelled by the power behind the vocals and the incredible notes, staggered with emotion, soul and feeling. This track is about Mav’s hopes, dreams and escaping the boring routine, searching for a higher calling:
“As I lost faith in myself, questioned everything I stood for, not knowing what left to look for in life”
Dropping straight into “Let Me Go”, another massive track, with a great video concept too (check it here). When pushed to the point of desperate unhappiness in a relationship, Maverick wishes to escape from the clutches of a relationship. Whilst it was great at the beginning, his soul is now broken and he wants her to let him go.
“Open My Eyes” is a track that many artists wouldn’t approach as critiques the path to riches and outlines the problems of money in today’s society. Mav realises that money is the cause of corruption and sings:
“see it’s like now your salary, is much more important than your sanity,”
It’s great to see how an artist develops over the span of a year or two, his early music is snappy and more rap sounding on the verses of “Memories” in places that singing but that’s all a part of the artist development. The Travelling Man mixtape was a great introduction to Maverick’s one-of-a-kind voice but he seems to swear more in his early work whereas now he doesn’t feel the need to, as he can express himself so much better without expletives.
I feel I shouldn’t review each track as you need to listen to the album in one complete sitting to truely get an insight into the hard work of this outstanding artist and you’ll get bored of me telling you how amazing his voice is, so go listen for yourself! I bought my copy this morning, so go get yours too!
It takes a lot of guts to cover a classic song, and doing it justice is the most important factor and Maverick does that and more, which is why this is one of my favourite tracks on the album. Placing his own spin on the famous Sam Cooke song “A Change is Gonna Come” results in a much more textured and layered sound that stretches every note to perfection. Maverick performed this on the Channel 4 documentary Maverick Sabre Live and I was awestruck by the level of passion he delivers with his vocals!
My closing thoughts on “Lonely Are The Brave” would be that each track on this album has been an expression of the trials and tribulations Maverick has been through and the lessons he has learnt or reflected upon on his journey. My favourite tracks are “These Days” and “I Used To Have It All” because of the super catchy rhythms, the raw power and uncontrolled emotion let loose in the vocals and the beautiful string accompaniment that really complement Mav’s high notes.
Here’s something you might not pick up on, the final track, “I Don’t See The Sun” is 8 minutes long so after the minute long pause is a live acoustic of They Found Him A Gun! I was wondering why this never made the album cut but this song is a testimony to his live credibility as all too often artists sound cannot perform loud outside the studio. Perhaps Ed Sheeran & Maverick Sabre are the new breed of acts that’s are must-see at a live performance. So I’ll hold my end of that deal when I see him in Leeds in March.
Maverick Sabre – Lonely Are The Brave (Mercury Records)