Who is he?
James Bay is a 24-year-old singer-songwriter from Hertfordshire, who has been entrancing listeners with his feather light vocals and acoustic guitar.
His model good looks and trademark image –wide-brimmed hat, long dark hair like a scrubbed-up Jack White – landed him a performance at Burberry's Fashion Week show in September.
A session in BBC Radio One's Live Lounge happened a week later, still two months before he released his debut single, Hold Back the River. The station's subsequent airplay of his wildly successful ballad Let It Go saw it enter the iTunes Top 10.
What is he like?
Bay's whispery voice is soulfully reminiscent of his Critics' Choice predecessor, Sam Smith, but with the earthy edge of Marcus Mumford or Tom Odell, with whom he shares that whispery falsetto.
He prides himself on "traditional song writing", and while his music doesn't push boundaries it does tug on heartstrings. Strings and piano back the Let It Go EP, produced by Tom Waits and Kings of Leon engineer Jacquire King.
One for fans of Fleet Foxes, First Aid Kit and Ed Sheeran.
What should you listen to?
James Bay’s debut album Chaos and the Calm is a testament to the young man’s talent. It includes a handful of songs I’ve every confidence you will have come across before, as well as one or two which one can’t help thinking merit a little more attention.
Check out Scars and If You Ever Wanna Be in Love.
By Stephen M. Wallace