Achieving chart success with a debut EP is remarkable. Getting there again with a sophomore release can be trickier. Often the best material, honed over years of writing and playing live, gets consumed by the debut.

Tazmin Barnes‘ new EP, Powerful, avoids the sophomore trap. Four distinctive yet unapologetically pop tracks display her vocal energy alongside mature songwriting. It’s not surprising that she touched a Top-10 position on the iTunes pop album charts last week. We’re also pleased to have spotted her as one of our Artists To Watch in 2018.

Title track “Powerful” marks the emergence of post-millennial girl power. Anthemic, yet cleverly arranged, it flows from reflective to vigorous with strong, supporting themes of self-expression:

“I’m me, I do what I want…
Every time I punch the air a part of me starts to feel powerful…
I’m gonna stand on my own ground.”

Reminiscent of ’80s disco, “One Good Cure” is a dance-floor filler for sure. Peppy and playful, it’s pure pop. But there’s more to this track than meets the ear. Focusing on living life the right way in a world full of distraction and temptation, the lyrics contain a much-needed moral compass:

“There’s one good cure I can be sure
For learning how to live
Just think what life is all about
The best don’t take but give.”

Exploring Barnes’ environmental conscience. “Extinction” expresses the impact of global warming through disbelief of political inaction.

“Everywhere I look I think
Storm is brewing can’t you see?
The eye of the hurricane is blowing faster reaching closer.”

Closing with a Whitney-style blues lift, this is pop with purpose, topped off with exceptional vocal styling.

“Tearing At My Tears” tells of “The One” who promised the Earth but didn’t quite deliver. This is Barnes at her classic pop best, entertaining yet provocative and with an earworm of a hook line that keeps the tune coming long after the song has ended.

Starting her career in China, where she blended music with modelling, TV and radio, Barnes marked her move to the UK with success in national singing contests. Her debut EP was Album of the Week on her local BBC radio station and Powerful has been featured live in session by BBC Introducing. It’s a testament to the strength of her work that two tracks made the National Final of the UK Songwriting Contest, organised by the BRIT Trust. Now here’s the thing. Barnes is just 15 years old. Yes, you read that right. Fifteen! So we can expect a lot more from her, including a collaboration with soprano Mary-Jess, whose music also connects with an early career in China.

Barnes also has the strength of music label and acclaimed artist development organisation Big Help Music to rely on, which may explain why she is navigating these difficult early years in the music industry with such a steady hand.

Powerful was released on 9 February and is available here.

Catch Barnes live at festivals across the UK this summer. She’s already booked for Mello Festival (Soul2Soul, The Christians, Toyah Wilcox) and Sunshine Festivals (Status Quo, Go West & Katrina an the Waves).

And keep up with Tazmin Barnes via:

Facebook | Twitter

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