We first came across King Charles in an Evening Standard feature in April and the first thing that struck us (as it will you) is his carefully crafted image. He’s a combination of Prince, and an actual King Charles (the second more than the first – certainly not the third). His clothes are a cross between regal and hipster – he’s just as likely to be in a ruffle neck on stage, and a Lonsdale zip-up off stage. His hair is somewhere between Bob Marley and Amy Winehouse, and it’s all topped off beautifully with a perfect handlebar moustache. Ultimately, he’s a royal dream to look at. He wouldn’t appear out of place as a Made In Chelsea wannabe, but this west London man has real talent to back it up.
A multi-instrumentalist since childhood, he signed to Universal after winning the International Songwriting Competition in 2009, and toured for a bit with pals Mumford and Sons (who perform a track with him on the album). A look at his Glastonbury performance from that year shows how his unique act has been polished off to perfection. Since the release of his album, LoveBlood, in May, he’s had a busy year, and started a considerable buzz on the scene. He played at practically every festival this summer (his Facebook page documents tireless gigging), topped off with sold-out gigs at Heaven and KOKO in London, as well as a session on Radio 2 with Jo Whiley.
Unlike many new artists you’re introduced to, King Charles is a treat to listen. His songs are current, melodic, and light hearted, and he’s achieved something wonderful in that they all feed into the concept of his act. He sounds like a wayward aristocrat who has run off to become something closer to a rock star (somewhere between Freddie Mercury and Prince Harry). For a first listen, it’s best to get started with the ridiculously catchy ‘Bam Bam’, the alternative ditty ‘Mississippi Isabel’ and the joyous, Graceland-esque ‘Lady Percy’ – but LoveBlood is a treat on the whole, and you won’t need to skip a track.
He hasn’t really punctured the mainstream yet but if there’s any justice in the world, he will soon. Great male artists have been the toast of Britain for decades, but they’ve been thin on the ground in recent years. King Charles ticks every box. Long may he reign.
This piece originally appeared in SoSoGay magazine.