One to watch: Victor Ray

Estimated read time 2 min read

Five years ago, after Victor Ray followed his teenage dreams down to London, he’d head for the city centre from his one-bedroom flat in Camden, find a busy spot like Oxford Street by midday, and do what he did back home in Newcastle. Which was: set up a battery-powered amp on the street to run a backing track or guitar through, then belt out big soulful ballads for two, three hours, going for every high note until he could barely speak. Like his years in wedding bands covering everything from Whitney to Wheatus, busking honed his traffic-stopping vocals, and taught him how to command a stage and connect with a crowd.

Now 24, Ray writes and sings his own songs, including Comfortable, Hollow and the guitar-shredding It Only Cost Everything. Classic soul, blues and rock filtered through the try-anything spirit of the 2020s, powered by a muscular yet vulnerable voice aching with heartbreak. He’s great at telling stories ripped from the pages of his life through song and, like his mate Myles Smith, he’s proving there’s space for young black British talent making authentic, popular music that isn’t rap. He’s following his first two self-examining EPs, I Was and I Felt, with I Tried, and a fourth later this year about his experience as a busker. Now Raye has raised the bar with her ambitious productions and orchestration, acts like Victor Ray are rising to the challenge.

The I Tried EP is out now. Victor Ray will tour the UK in November and December


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