Sarah Grace McLaughlin – also known as Bishop Briggs – might be one of the most unique singers the industry has seen in years. The self-proclaimed queen of “trap-soul” had a worldly upbringing that had clear influence on her exploration as an artist. Born in London to Scottish parents, Briggs had her first performing experience in a karaoke bar in Tokyo, where she moved with her family when she was four years old. Briggs made waves with her smash single “River” in early 2016 and has since been the fascination of the alt-rock crowd. She’s opened for Coldplay, headlined her own stage at SXSW and earned a feature on the latest Cold War Kids record— all without having released a debut album of her own.
Bishop Briggs’ self-titled EP is her first to date and includes her first two mesmerizing singles, “River” and “Wild Horses.” The EP represents Briggs’ heart-stopping tenacity and incomparable artistry. Perfectly melding aspects of soul, folk-rock and electronica, Briggs effortlessly layers her versatile vocals over addictive acoustic beats. “Dark Side” is an instant standout on the six-track EP, a glittering and powerful bout of lyrical genius. Female artists are so often discouraged from giving their music a dark-pop edge, but artists like Banks and Tove Lo have certainly paved the way for Bishop Briggs to be fearless in her expression.
“The Way I Do” is a biting, energetic track that shows off Briggs’ insanely soulful vocal range. It’s nearly impossible not to bop your head along to the hypnotic hook. The melancholic organ on “Dead Man’s Arms” pays homage to Briggs’ days performing in a gospel choir as a child in Tokyo. The song is exquisite from start to finish, but really hits its stride when Briggs shows off the gritty rasp of her voice. “The Fire” is the perfect closing track to this brilliant EP, finding the balance between darkness and light, devil and saint.
Bishop Briggs is a fiercely creative individual whose passion for music is unapologetic and unrelenting. With a debut EP as powerful and impressive as this, there’s no telling what records Briggs will break next.