There’s a trend for producers to come out from behind the mixing desk and into the spotlight. It’s gathering pace with the emergence of Thirteen Mile, the music brand of Manchester-based producer and songwriter David JL.
Thirteen Mile’s debut EP, Don’t Stop Never Stop, is a collaboration with vocalist Tristan Henry, another studio man whose session vocals have appeared in UK Club charts. With rich tones, solid tuning, and a range to die for, it’s time he got the credit for his work, too.
The Fleetwood Mac track “Don’t Stop” is so embedded in our collective psyche that it takes a brave musician to offer anything other than a karaoke-style cover. Step forward Thirteen Mile with a fresh, contemporary remix that reloads the song for a new generation. The arrangement rocks electro, and respect for the original is given via an invigorated interpretation. But it’s the vocal that transforms the piece. Henry delivers with depth and pathos, bringing a dimension to the story that’s so much more than inspirational.
Offering a reply to “Don’t Stop”, the first of two original tracks on the EP lays a challenge not just to think about tomorrow, but to prepare. “Are You Ready Now” is raw, rock-edged and powerful with words that are more than mere tune-trimmings:
“You’ve been waiting for the right time to be free.
It’s time to change into the person that you want to be.
You’ve gotta face the fears that are holding you back.
You’ve gotta stop believing you’re going nowhere fast.”
There’s a fusion with Thirteen Mile’s dance roots through a persistent, underpinning percussion and, once again, Henry knocks it out of the park.
Continuing the reflections on life lived to the max, “Hurricane” is the song of support from the friend we all need. Pure dance, it lands full-force with Henry’s vocal, building with rhythmic insistence and rapid-fire lyrics. Visual storytelling via a superbly constructed, slightly random, part-animated video completes the mix.
Bracketing the two originals is a second bite of the “Don’t Stop” cherry, as Thirteen Mile returns to his stimulus with “Don’t Stop II”, proving that he is no one-trick-pony in the regeneration game. With all the hallmarks of a dance-floor masterpiece, expect this track to be a mainstay of clubs across the Costas and beyond this summer. Once again, Henry proves to be much more than a voice, adding an energy and urgency to his interpretation that deliver another variation on the message of the original. Decorated with interludes of jazz sax, this is genius at work.
Don’t Stop Never Stop delivers a subtle showcase of Thirteen Mile‘s influences, which he cites as The Cure, Chemical Brothers, deadmau5, The XX and Depeche Mode. Wherever his style originates, he gives it his own signature, reliably dance with twists, turns and nods to the world beyond.
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