- 08 Feb 17
He's the up-and-coming songwriter of the moment - but don't write Declan McKenna off as just another Ed Sheeran clone.
You may have already made your mind up about Declan McKenna. Eighteen but looking closer to 12, he hails from suburban southern England and specialises in anguished guitar ballads. The irresistible conclusion is he’s the Evil Music Industry’s latest lab-grown boy-strummer, in the tradition of Ed Sheeran, Jake Bugg, James Bay et al.
A case in point was last year’s break-out hit ‘Brazil’, which critiqued alleged human rights abuses by the Brazilian government in the run up to the 2014 World Cup. Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think Saint Ed of Ginger Hall has ever penned a tune about the downgrading of basic civil liberties ahead of a major sporting event (if you’re reading Mr Sheeran, feel free to take that as a challenge).
“You get comparisons to other singers and they often aren’t quite accurate,” McKenna tells me backstage at Dublin’s Academy. “The Ed Sheeran and Jake Bugg thing… often people see a boy with a guitar and want to lump them in a box. At one point SyCo [Simon Cowell’s boutique label] were interested in signing me!”