REVIEW: SIAN CROSS – ‘CONSCIOUS’ EP 23

Having already shared the stage with Jessie J, Daniel Bedingfield and the icon that is Stevie Wonder, Sian Cross is no stranger to the music industry, and she’s well and truly on the way to leaving her own mark on it.

Her EP Conscious showcases her talents superbly and there’s a passion and honesty to her lyrics that have been missing from a lot of releases in recent years. With a vocal delivery that is so full of emotion it sent shivers up this reviewers’ arms at least once, the 5 track collection serves as a great introduction to those who have yet to discover how good this young woman is.

The EP opens with “Tell Anybody”, an anthem perfect for anyone struggling through life or fighting a battle that seems never-ending. It’s a testament to individuality and a call to all those who listen to it to be themselves, to stand up for what they believe in and to live their life their way.

“Stare At Me” was inspired by a Katie Piper documentary Cross watched shortly after undergoing surgery to remove a teratoma, which left her with several scars. While she recovered and while feeling insecure, the documentary encouraged Cross to reveal her true self to those around her; scars and all, and this song is a reminder to everyone, herself included, about the strength that comes with being yourself and accepting who you are 100%.

In a world where so many people are judged and judge others on their appearance, Cross should be commended for creating a song to inspire, encourage and motivate all those who listen to it to think twice about what they say and do, but more importantly, to remind them that we’re all human and that no-one, even if they believe that they are, is perfect – and that’s something we all have in common.

Next is “The World As I”, a melodic little number that would work well as a future single. It’s slower and softer than the previous two tracks, which some listeners might be put off by, but it’s certainly worthy of several listens.

“On and On” meanwhile is another empowering track, inspired by an encounter with a stripper Cross had one day. Strippers and other individuals often get a bad reputation for what they do, without others taking into consideration a persons’ back-story or reasons for doing the job in question. “On And On” serves as yet another reminder that those who do what they want to and what they believe in are some of the strongest people around, and no-one has the right to judge them for it.

Adding a touch of poignancy to the collection, “Four Weeks” is a sentimental track which pays tribute to Cross’ father who died several years ago. The emotion with which Cross delivers the lyrics is enough to bring those who hear it (certainly myself anyway) to tears as she puts into words and to music how difficult for her the loss was to deal with. She wanted to write and share the song as a way of helping others through similar situations and, as she explains, that’s exactly what the track has done:

“Since releasing the song, I have received a number of messages from people expressing the comfort and strength that Four Weeks had given them. One person even told me that they hadn’t been able to grieve for their mum but this song allowed them to release the pain they had been hiding.”

Very few artists in recent years have addressed such a personal issue so publicly as Cross does on this track, the exception perhaps being “Wake Me Up When September Ends” by Green Day, written about the passing of front-man Billie Joe Armstrong’s father, and I for one want to stand up and applaud her for doing so. As someone who lost a loved one a few years back, this song has given me a new perspective and serves as a musical reminder that I’m not alone in struggling with the loss I’ve endured. Sometimes we all need a little reminder that we’re all living life on this Earth together, and as much as we might feel it sometimes, we’re never truly alone in what we’re feeling.

As of this moment, this collection is easily my EP of the year and it will take something truly, truly special to top it. Conscious is available now on iTunes.

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AMERICAN MUSIC AWARDS 2017: THE WINNERS REVEALED 13

Here are all the winnners from the 2017 American Music Awards.

Lifetime achievement award: Diana Ross

Artist of the year: Bruno Mars

New artist of the year: Niall Horan

Tour of the year: Coldplay

Video of the year: “That’s What I Like” by Bruno Mars

Alternative artist: Linkin Park

Collaboration of the year: “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, featuring Justin Bieber 

Pop or rock male artist: Bruno Mars

Pop or rock female artist: Lady Gaga

Pop or rock album: “24K Magic” by Bruno Mars

Adult contemporary: Shawn Mendes

Pop rock duo or group: Imagine Dragons

Rap or hip-hop artist: Drake

Rap or hip-hop album: “DAMN.” by Kendrick Lamar

Rap or hip-hop song: “I’m the One” by DJ Khaled

Male country artist: Keith Urban

Female country artist: Carrie Underwood

Country duo or group: Little Big Town

Country song: “Blue Ain’t Your Color” by Keith Urban

Country Album: “Ripcord” by Keith Urban

Soul or R&B male artist: Bruno Mars

Soul or R&B female artist: Beyonce

Soul or R&B album: “24K Magic” by Bruno Mars

Soul or R&B song: “That’s What I Like” by Bruno Mars

Latin artist: Shakira

Contemporary inspirational artist: Lauren Daigle

Top soundtrack: “Moana”

MATT TERRY TALKS DEBUT ALBUM ‘TROUBLE’ & TOUR PLANS 27

With the current series about to reach its quarter final stage this weekend, Matt Terry, last year’s X Factor champion, is as glued to the show as its millions of fans are. But, with his debut album Trouble out on November 24th, he’s also keeping extremely busy; not that he’s complaining. ThisIsTheLatest caught up with Matt during a press tour for the album to talk favourite current X-Factor artists, tour plans and ultimate ambitions.

TITL: Hi Matt. Exactly how much has life changed for you in the past year or so since you won The X Factor 2016?

Matt Terry: It’s been amazing. It’s been an absolute whirlwind but I’ve loved it. I’ve travelled everywhere; I’ve been to Madrid, Miami…all over the place, plus I’ve been writing the album which I’m so happy with, then there was the X-Factor tour which I absolutely loved. It’s been an amazing year.

TITL: A lot of shows such as The X-Factor have gotten a lot of criticism over the years for a number of reasons, with some suggesting it’s not a viable career platform for artists. How do you feel about that?

MT: I think it’s important to remember that any artist, no matter where they come from, has to work hard if they want to succeed. It’s not just about, you know, coming from The X Factor – when you’re new and out there, you really do have to work hard in order to make a name for yourself and get yourself heard.

TITL: I have to ask, have you been watching the latest series and if so, do you have any favourites or, even at this early stage, anyone you’re wanting to win?

MT: I was actually there on Sunday with Nicole. I love Kevin and, if I’m honest, I think Rak-Su could win. I think it’s time a boy-band finally won it and I think Rak-Su could do it.

TITL: You shot the video for your latest single “Sucker For You” in Miami. Given the fact the video sees you being drowned and set on fire, what was that experience like?

MT: I felt like James Bond, if I’m honest. My label were like “You don’t have to do it, we know it’s daunting…” and I was like “No, no no – I’m doing it!” We had a blast filming the video; I felt like an action star.

TITL: The song is taken from your debut album Trouble. How would you sum it up?

MT: It’s like a diary of my journey over the past two years; life, relationships – stuff like that. I think it’s relatable and that there’s stuff on there for everybody from the new single, “Sucker For You”, some ballads and there’s some Spanish tracks too.

TITL: Could you pick your favourite track from the collection and if so, which is it and why?

MT: I think “The Thing About Love” is my favourite track because it’s just so true. It’s one of those ‘Oh my God yeah, that’s so true’ kind of songs and I hope everyone enjoys it a lot.

TITL: You co-wrote the album. How important to you was and is it that you have/had as much creative input towards the music you put out as possible?

MT: I think it’s so important and I was so lucky with my label; they believed in me and they threw me in the studio and loved all my writing and my creative ideas. I’m really hands-on when it comes to my music and the music videos. I know what I want to do, how I want to perform, so yeah, for me, it’s definitely important.

TITL: In terms of song-writing where do you tend to take ideas from or where and how do you most commonly find them?

MT: My songs are about real things that can be quite bad, but they’re not always sad. Some are more like songs that make you look back on things and think “Ha…” You’re almost kind of laughing about whatever that moment was. I think that’s what artists want to do; you want to write about your life; the experiences you have and how people can or might be able to relate to you. For me, it’s the right thing to do.

TITL: Is there a tour in the works?

MT: We’re currently planning a tour for next year, which I’m so excited for. Depending on where the album does best, that’s probably where we’ll go.

TITL: Are there any particular venues or locations in the UK you’d most like to play?

MT: London has to be somewhere that I NEED to play and be…

TITL: I ask this to every band or artist I speak to and so I’m curious to see what you say. If you could tour with four other bands or artists, living or dead, who would they be and where would you play?

MT: Wow. Great. Right, okay. First off…Michael Jackson. I’d probably stick us around the London area, but in the world, I think Miami is a really cool place so yeah, maybe around there. I love Jessie J, Sam Smith…JP Cooper…

TITL: I saw him supporting The Script a couple of months ago…

MT: He’s unreal, right?

TITL: Social media plays such a huge part in people’s lives now, often both personally and professionally, so to what extent has it impacted your career?

MT: I love speaking to my fans and to do that directly, I think social media’s a really great tool. I try to respond to as many of them as I can and get to know them. I’ve got this one group of fans who follow me pretty much everywhere I go and when I see them, I just go over and talk to them like they’re a group of my mates. What I like about social media is that it can – and does – bring people together. That group of fans I just mentioned all met because they’re fans of mine, so it’s cool that they’ve now got a brand new friendship group. That means a lot to me.

TITL: What advice would you give to anyone looking to make their mark on the music industry, or, given the rise in TV talent shows over the years, those who are maybe considering auditioning for the next series of The X Factor or a similar show?

MT: Being a part of The X Factor was and still is the greatest experience of my life – I have no regrets. I would, in terms of advice, say go for it and give it your all. Be yourself and let people get to know you; open up and let them see your personality. Enjoy it.

TITL: Finally then, what’s your ultimate goal as an artist? What would you most like to be remembered for, and what would you like your epitaph to say?

MT: My ultimate goal would be to just dream big and head out on a world tour. I think I’d like to be remembered for helping others and for having people say that I could sing and that I had – have – a nice voice. As for what my epitaph would say…YOLO!

Matt Terry’s debut album Trouble is out on November 24th and available for pre-order now. To keep up to date with Matt, visit his website, give his page a like on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.