You are in for a treat with this HNAF. Gareth Donkin releases a truly epic first album, Welcome Home, for a young artist. I can only compare this to Michael Jackson’s ‘Off The Wall’ with it’s a mind-blowing mix of pop, funk, jazz, and more. It’s a cohesive and substantive mix of instrumental virtuosity (yes he plays all the instruments) and mature emotional themes that will leave you asking yourself “is he really only 23?” The answer is yes but remember Michael was 21 when he recorded Off The Wall (albeit already an established artist). Welcome Home is one of the more exciting records we’ve had the chance to listen to this year. Check out “Falling For You” below:
Written and recorded in a series of bedroom studios in England and France, London-based Gareth Donkin’s extraordinary debut, Welcome Home, showcases the 23-year-old’s stunning mix of instrumental virtuosity and emotional intuition, blending highly sophisticated melodic and harmonic craftsmanship with deeply moving lyrical explorations of longing, desire, and determination. The songs here draw on soul, funk, pop, yacht rock, hip-hop, jazz, and even bossa nova, hinting at times to everything from Michael Jackson and Bill Evans to George Benson and Jamiroquai, and Donkin’s performances are nothing short of mesmerizing, layering up instrument after instrument in the best one-man-band tradition of Prince or Stevie Wonder. The result is a moving work that’s equal parts brain and brawn, a masterful coming-of-age self-portrait from a young artist discovering himself—and his sound—one song at a time.
Born with perfect pitch, Donkin was already fanatically obsessed with both jazz piano and drums before he turned twelve. In high school, he began DJing and teaching himself to record and sample, and by the time he headed to the Leeds College of Music to pursue a degree in production, he was already writing and recording his own material at home. His first single, “Catharsis,” would go on to rack up more than a million streams on Spotify, and a series of subsequent tracks would find similarly organic success and help land him a deal with the burgeoning drink sum wtr label.