Give her half a chance and Celeste Waite will break your heart. She’ll do it without even really trying. And the strange thing is, you’ll be happy to let her, again and again.
Born in L.A., raised in Dagenham and now based in Brighton, the 25-year-old soul singer is a former protégé of Lily Allen, and has found herself being spoken of in the same glowing terms as Amy Winehouse and Jorja Smith. It’s not just PR hyperbole either. Credit it to technical ability or to emotional maturity, but there aren’t many emerging artists who can inhabit a song quite like Waite. It’s the clear-eyed conviction, the supple phrasing, the subtle huskiness underpinning her smoky tones.
Raking through the ashes of infidelity on ‘Both Sides of the Moon’, she sounds both bereft and resigned, her weary tones gently caressing a muted, brass-tinged instrumental courtesy of Leeds jazz collective Gotts Street Park. Her most recent track, January’s single ‘Father’s Son’, is stronger still, its spectral Hammond organ chords and sparse but purposeful percussion providing a suitably haunting bed for Waite’s bruised resolve. Resentment and pain has seldom sounded so exquisite.