Last year’s winners The xx were the first winners since Portishead in 1995 that I actually agreed with, which may show you how my taste differs from the eclectic (or sometimes bizarre) choices of the judging panel.
Even last year The xx wouldn’t have been my first choice (Laura Marling or Villagers FYI) but still, they deserved it more than Speech Debelle or Ms Dynamite.
While I have enjoyed individual songs from quite a few of the albums nominated, Metronomy, Everything Everything, this year there are three artists from the 12 that I would be happy to see win. First up, and the album I would most like to win, is Anna Calvi’s self-titled debut.
Her blend of guitar prowess, theatrics and an impressive vocal range – from force of nature to gentle chanteuse – set her apart in a market dominated by female solo artists, and would make her a worthy winner.
Album opener Rider to the Sea builds nicely into a perfect encapsulation of her technical ability, while her soft, breathy vocals on No More Words show she can do sultry as well as she can power, which is then evident on Desire and Suzanne and I.
The second nominee I would be happy to see win would be James Blake. His album, also a self-titled debut, is innovative and yet soulful, sparse but emotive. The use of his own crooned vocals as samples, layered over trippy, dubstep beats, is an unexpected but winning formula. A win could see him conquer the mainstream.
Next up is a woman many have compared Anna Calvi to, somewhat due to Calvi’s work with producer Rob Ellis, PJ Harvey, who could become the first artist to win the Mercury Prize twice, with her brilliant Let England Shake album.
The war-themed concept album is a modern classic, and deserves to be recognised as so, however, the boost the award would give to Calvi or Blake makes me favour them.
After The xx, who were the bookies favourites last year, I reckon the panel will go obscure again, which I hope will benefit Calvi, but unfortunately, I doubt it. I will stick my neck out and say it could be Metronomy or Ghostpoet who triumph.