September 27, 2022
Photo: Lauren Stocker

It is amazing just how much rich, wonderful and exotic music there is out there simply awaiting discovery! The latest in a never-ending list of talent is the South African artist Stephen Dayvid McKellar whom some of you may know through his work with the now defunct Cape Town indie rock band Civil Twilight which released three rather fine albums in the eleven years that they were together which ended in 2016.

Singer, bassist and keyboard player Steven McKellar has since gone on to pursue a solo artist with his eclectic and ethereal indie rock that simply takes your breath away. I’ve since checked out his work with Civil Twilight which is most enjoyable and has a real sound of early U2 with the musicians proving to be skilled and most adept artists, but it is the voice of McKellar that immediately commands your attention. McKellar has released a couple of outstanding EPs with NAMA being his latest featuring seven very personal songs which are delivered with an exquisite fragility with his voice being sumptuous, rich and emotionally heart-breaking with a delivery similar to the likes of Thom Yorke, John Grant, Peter Gabriel at his most eclectic and even the late, great Billy Mackenzie. All, of course, being musicians with very special voices that are often at their best with minimal accompaniment or just a simple piano/keyboard backing. Paradoxically, McKellar makes great use of sparse backing with synths, acoustic guitar, drum machine and bass so much so that the minimalist approach lends real gravitas to his voice and the whole work truly rivals a symphony orchestra in scope, complexity and intensity. He knows how to build the tension with each perfectly composed song working up to a crescendo that explodes with emotion and real passion.

The EP is only 26-minutes but seems so much longer as you are drawn into his atmospheric and haunting world from which there is no escape. Make a note of the name as here is a musician we are surely going to hear much more from in the future and rightly so for he is a man with a real talent for writing haunting music with a divine voice and a perfect sense of delivery.

NAMA

  1. One and Zero (2:55)
  2. Nama Wind (3:43)
  3. Slow Fade (2:42)
  4. Stop Running (3:31)
  5. Pull Away (5:08)
  6. Trillion Tiny Waves (4:05)
  7. Edge Of The Garden (3:53)