When you need a sultry British soul fix, you must reach for one Gemma Ray, the modern answer to Dusty Springfield whose spooky PJ Harvey bent is built for a Tim Burton soundtrack. Active since 2006, the singer-songwriter is known for smoky vocal expanses and extravagantly sparse beds of sound, owing much to the guitar work of Link Wray and the torch singers of the pre-rock era. Ray does this all the while tapping into a modern-girl mentality that makes her easier to relate to than, say, the well-manicured suffering of her contemporaries. Her 2008 album The Leader was incredibly seductive, with Ray's interesting phrasing and vocal restraint making it a critical favorite. A 2010 covers album, It's a Shame About Gemma Ray, found the singer covering Mudhoney, Buddy Holly and Etta James within the same hour. A new disc, Island Fire, is coming in late May, and already has buzz bubbling, with lead single "Runaway" coming off like Ladytron produced by Lee Hazlewood.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.