Holly Lapsley Fletcher waited until her last song to do her party piece and earn her biggest cheer. Halfway through Station, she turned to a second microphone and transformed her soulful, teenager’s tones into a deep male rumble. Such vocal experimentation has earned comparisons between the Liverpool 18-year-old and James Blake’s future soul. She’s also in danger of being filed intimidatingly near to Adele, as a big voice signed to the same label, XL, that made a megastar of the 21 singer. Her song 8896, when performed solo with a piano backing, had echoes of Adele’s early single Hometown Glory.
Yet for one so young, on her first UK tour with one proper single to her name, she seemed confident enough to avoid larger shadows. Striding to the front with a serious, ghost white face, she opened the show singing bold and pure over the merest smudge of synthesizer. Even when covering legends with a version of Fleetwood Mac’s Rhiannon, she sent a familiar tune into outer space with a radical digital makeover.
However, across a brief set, backed by drum pads and keyboards, the electronic trickery was relatively restrained. Like other current solo women Banks and Laura Doggett, she seems to be a traditional songwriter cloaking her strong choruses in the sound of 2015. She was also happy to puncture the icy soundscapes with a brassy remark. “My biggest thought then was, ‘Can everybody see my knickers?’” she said as she sat at her keyboard. It was a not too subtle hint that she has the personality to stand apart in an overpopulated field and have a big year ahead.