Meskerem Mees (BE)
Even the influential Consequence of Sound knows: as soon as Meskerem Mees (22) starts to sing, magic kicks in. With just her voice, an acoustic guitar and the cello of her sister in arms Febe Lazou, she has the ability to turn any song into an irresistible folk pop gem. Debut single ‘Joe’ was a big commercial and critical success in Belgium and its neighbouring countries, follow-up singles ‘Seasons Shift’ and ‘Astronaut’ confirmed her status as one of Europe’s biggest talents in music. A status that brought her to some of the most beautiful places in Europe, from Berlin to Paris, and to top it off the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival on the shoreline of Lake Geneva. Now we can proudly present ‘Julius’, her debut album and a collection of 13 timelessly beautiful songs, whose melodies and choruses effortlessly find their way to the musical epicentre in your head. Meskerem also has the skill to pull you right into the story of each song with just the right amount of well-chosen words – sometimes to the point, at other times poetic. These are songs that could’ve easily been written by, say, Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell half a century ago. It takes a master such as Koen Gisen to know exactly what to do with solid gold like this: not too much. Less is more. His sparse and, as always, superb production turns the spotlights exactly where they need to be: on Meskerem’s disarming lyrics and the amazing interaction with Febe. The result is nothing less than an instant classic. ‘Julius’ has what it takes to do what an illustrious namesake didn’t quite accomplish centuries ago: to conquer the whole of Europe. And who knows, the world.