Fans of James Bay and Jeff Buckley will love Isaac Gracie. JOELY MCEWAN caught up with the 23 year-old Londoner as his eponymous debut album is released

THESE are heady times for Isaac Gracie.

His debut album has been in the works for two years, but in that time the long-haired songwriter has been winning all manner of plaudits, not least from Radio One’s Annie Mac, who awarded his single Last Words “tune of the week” in February.

“It’s just really nice to have such a powerful and enabling force behind my music,” says Gracie of the station’s support. The Haunt show in Brighton is the penultimate date of Gracie’s UK tour.

“We’ve been playing these songs for a while now so everything is pretty tight and rehearsed,” he says. “I’m really excited and can’t wait to get out and play the show.”

The singer previously showcased his skills in Brighton at The Great Escape festival in 2016. He performed his singles Terrified and Last Words two years before they would appear on an album.

He says he isn’t hugely familiar with the city due to the time pressures of touring, but he likes what he has seen. “I love spending time there, especially as the seafront has some great venues.”

In terms of inspiration for his first record, the songwriter says that the lyrics capture the two-year effort of making the album itself.

“It is a representation of the journey that the album actually takes – it’s the process of its own creation,” he says, cryptically.

In an interview with the BBC this week, however, Gracie said that many of his tunes reflect the tumultuous aftermath of a romantic relationship gone awry.

He adds that some of the album’s songs capture “the darkest, roughest and most uncertain time in my life”.

Happily, Gracie used songwriting as a means of finding out who he was. The lyrics portray this voyage of self-discovery.

He admits to apprehension about the release of the album – not that there’s much he can do about that.

“I’m nervous because there’s anticipation around it,” he says, referring to the industry hype, “but the work is done now so the thing I can do now is let it live.”

Over the last two years Gracie has realised he is cut out for the music world after some debilitating doubts.

He says there were times where he thought he didn’t even want to make music anymore, moments he counts as the lowest points of his career.

“I was like, ‘I’m not good, I can’t writing a song’”.

Even before his music had taken off in the way it was now, he knew that industry bosses demand a lot from musicians.

“They want integrity, they want truth and they want honesty. But they also want a big old smash hit.”

As mentioned, Gracie is often compared to artists like James Bay, George Ezra and his personal idol Jeff Buckley. This is largely due to his husky voice and acoustic leanings.

The singer, however, doesn’t accept that he is anything like Buckley.

“It’s not a real comparison,” he says. “I love Jeff so much so it’s just cool to be playing music and to be included in the same sentences as him.” Buckley died in 1997, three years after Gracie was born.

Gracie began to upload his songs to Soundcloud while studying creative writing at the University Of East Anglia. Eventually he was discovered by talent scouts and signed to the Virgin EMI record label.

The singer encourages others to use the website as a platform for their music. “Always write when you feel inspired to, when you feel like you can write songs,” he says.

“Ninety per cent of the songs are going to be awful but all you can do is power through.”

After the UK tour, Gracie will just keep doing what he knows best – making music. The hype is besides the point, he just hopes he can keep connecting with people as he has done so far.

“I’d like to carry on with what I’m doing and I hope the songs are received by more and more people.”

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