Dean Brady

Dean Brady strikes a dazzling first impression. The Brisbane-born singer and songwriter’s debut single, “Falling”, is a gorgeous, elegantly wounded R&B song, capturing all the heartbroken showmanship of the Motown era while nodding to the bass-heavy, off-kilter beats of modern producers like Kaytranada and Anderson .Paak. Showcasing a fully-formed star at the earliest stage in his genesis, it’s a warm, unprecedented arrival for the young musician, a display of supreme confidence in a genre that rewards exactly this kind of renegade boldness.

Descended from the Gugu Yalanji and Birrigubba people and the Matabele Zimbabwean people, Brady was born into a musical household: his parents were both members of the legendary “outback Motown” group Banawurun, and he grew up hearing their band practise in the living room and listening to his mother singing old soul songs as she cooked dinner. Performance, perhaps, is in his DNA – you can certainly hear his comfort in the spotlight on “Falling”, which feels as lived-in and well-fitting as a vintage leather jacket.

As a child, Brady would perform Michael Jackson songs for friends and family, obsessing over the pop icon’s moves and sound, and even at a young age was tracing a lineage of soul singers that, eventually, would all be woven into his own musical DNA: Stevie, Marvin, Frank Sinatra, Usher. Going to a Justin Bieber concert at a formative age flicked a switch in him – he realised the massive scale of music, the spectacular power of being able to put on a grand show. After that, he was a goner, willing to fully invest in a fantasy of one day being on those kinds of stages.

That ambition, as well as that love of music both classic and contemporary, has filtered into “Falling”, which has an expensive, velveteen shine despite its somewhat raucous, rabble-rousing energy. There’s a real clash here of old-soul sophistication and Zoomer playfulness, the sound of an artist raised on spirited and genre-agnostic pop stars suffusing that sense of rebellion with his own somewhat old-fashioned sensibility. And, of course, there’s a feeling of exhilarating futility, perhaps a strain of what Brady says has been described to him as “toxic R&B”, coming through.

Written and produced with Jerome and Jacob Farah, “Falling” is a unique beast as far as debut singles go – it’s wonderfully fleet-footed while still being nakedly emotional, a surprising fusion of arena-sized ambition with lyrics that, in the hands of someone less bold, may be secreted away in a diary somewhere. The song’s spine is its hip-hop influence, the sinewy bassline and rattling beats that take this from pure revivalism into an entirely new realm. This, ultimately, is at the core of Brady’s music: it’s maximalist and unbothered all at once, tapping into a multi-generational vision of classic music that feels fresh, vibrant and above all, fun.