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Mixtape: 14-year-old singer Isabelle Brown drops impressive debut

Mixtape of the Week

Don’t let her age fool you… Isabelle Brown doesn’t miss a beat.

isabelle_brown_only_having_a_laugh-front-largeThe 14-year-old British songstress combines her powerfully expressive vocals with a sassy blend of jazz melodies and hip-hop flair on her impressive debut mixtape, Only Having a Laugh, available now at datpiff.com.

Brown first made her debut in October, with her single, “Pot of Gold” featuring the Arizona rap trio, Injury Reserve. In an interview with The FADER, she explains how the song is about fulfilling your potential.

“People can interpret the lyrics in different ways,” she said. “Some may say the earth is a pot of gold and we shouldn’t damage it, others may say their talent is a pot of gold and they shouldn’t waste it. At the end of the day, it’s about doing everything you can to the best of your ability.”

The song was largely written and recorded when she was 12-years-old. Since then, the Brighton, U.K. native has been receiving widespread acclaim for her neo-soul sound, which is undeniably comparable to contemporaries such as Amy Winehouse and Erykah Badu.

Isabelle Brown’s story thus far is not that of your typical, potentially-precocious teen star-in-waiting. Core values such as hard graft, grit, and vulnerability, underpin even her most powerhouse vocals. At the age of seven, Brown wrote her first love song.

“Which when you think back,” she says now, “is an absolute laugh, as I’d never even kissed a boy but thought I was the number one romance guru.”

Brought up between two creative, unconventional households—her parents having separated around the same time—Brown’s irrepressible voice slowly began to draw on experiences of her own. She has spent the last couple of years singing, writing, performing or recording every weekend or school-holiday, with a close-knit circle of friends, collaborators, and family protecting her every step of the way.

Only Having a Laugh features seven all-new tracks including “Hey Romeo,” which was released on her SoundCloud page two months ago. The track features samples of “Don’t Sweat the Technique” by Eric B. & Rakim, which she recorded while “imagining a performance for someone who has no idea you exist.”

The mixtape is an exploration of her maturity through music. It opens with “Armour” a soulful track with a boom-bap soaked melody that gives Brown the opportunity to showcase her talent.

“Home” is yet another noteworthy example of Brown’s captivating contralto singing voice, which she follows with the somber, yet defiant song, “I’m Just Me,” a track about being comfortable in your own body. While the title track “Only Having a Laugh,” is a mere 50-second interlude, it features some smooth guitar licks, which she follows-up with her introspective track, “Grow Up,” which as you probably guessed, is about maturity.

Isabelle Brown balances her youthful, restless innocence with innate musical maturity on her first mixtape, Only Having a Laugh, a deadly serious introduction to the new artist. Although she still has much left to accomplish, Brown is a bright young talent who has honed her craft quite well and we greatly look forward to hearing more in the future.

RATING: 5/5

LISTEN: ISABELLE BROWN – ONLY HAVING A LAUGH

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