Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.

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I was quite surprised when I heard that British singer-songwriter James Bay had signed to American major label Republic Records, as he is hardly known in the UK. I saw him live last month, supporting Ruen Brothers, and although I was impressed with his excellent voice and distinctive look, none of his songs stood out. The fact that James looks more like a country-blues singer from the Deep South than a Hertfordshire boy may explain the US label interest. This identity works as a novelty factor, but for him to succeed, the persona needs to be put forward as blatantly in the music as in his outfits and hair.