It’s hard to believe that I’m actually saying what I’m about to say, but the unfortunate truth is that jazz, which in my opinion is the foundation of all popular western music as we know it both fundamentally and figuratively, is in a very concerning place right now in its storied history. With the basic jazz formula now being celebrated in virtually every school of pop music, some of the enigmatic smoke that kept jazz so stylish has faded away, and there hasn’t been much attempt from the benefits of its credo to preserve its purity. Until recently, that is.
Daisy Hicks and her brethren are giving hope to generations of jazz fans young and old who deeply wish to see jazz not just expanded upon but kept holy as the divine house of modern pop as we understand it to sound. Hicks lives true to her roots and doesn’t corrupt her music with a lot of silly external influences, but instead finds a way to be inventive all on her own. You could say that she’s living more of a jazz life than any other self-described soul/pop singer, and you’d be right, but you’d also have to acknowledge the fact that she’s living more of a jazz life than most singers who have spent their lives exclusively making jazz, and that really says a lot.
She’s one part purist, one part face of the future, and she does everything right in her new song “Upside,” a studiously vibrant follow-up to the epic “I Choose You,” which served as the song that would eventually get me hooked on the Daisy Hicks brand. When I started digging into her discography, I didn’t discover a lot of academia-touting concept stuff. What did I find? A more diversely appointed catalogue of music than I’ve discovered in any artist since I first got into this business over fifteen years ago.
No one else in her class of artists has the chance of appealing to such a vastly wide range of fans of any number of tastes or backgrounds, and with even with that said, she still isn’t abandoning her sense of tradition and adherence to a strict set of ethics that always put her music and her songwriting before anything and everything else in her life. She’s not just a singer by trade or profession, she’s a musician because it’s in her blood. It’s what she was meant to do, and that shows up in her songs.
I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my pick for best new artist of 2018, and even though the year isn’t over quite yet, I’ve got to nominate Daisy Hicks at this point because I’m fairly certain I’m not going to hear anything that will rival the complexity and mesmerizing stare of “Upside” or “I Choose You” for that matter. If you haven’t already heard her music, do yourself a favor and seek out her brilliant work wherever you can find it. Sometimes we talk about generation artists so much that they lose the respect that they deserve. We need to stop doing that. Daisy Hicks is a generation artist, and she deserves our deepest respect.