In July 2011, a song called Let Me Go started to feature prominently on Irish radio stations. It was a triumphant and soulful track with booming brass, but it was the raspy vocal that immediately caught the attention. What made this vocal all the more remarkable was that it was coming from a twenty-one year old from New Ross in Co. Wexford.
Maverick Sabre is the stage name of cross genre guitarist and hip hop artist, Michael Stafford. Stafford was born in Hackney, London but moved to New Ross in Co. Wexford at a young age and would spend his formative years in Ireland. Stafford has since said that growing up with a mix of cultural loyalties helped him to develop a better range of perspectives that can often be seen in his music. Stafford would eventually start performing on stage at sixteen years old, and two years later he would decide to move back to London, on the advice of friend and fellow hip-hop/soul artist Ben Drew (a.k.a. Plan B), to pursue his music career in 2008.
Stafford‘s career would begin to make tracks shortly after his move to London. A series of collaborations and featured credits on tracks with artists such as Jermicide & Danny Diggs, Terawrizt and Nu-Centz among others, would eventually result in Stafford getting a slot on the well known internet series SBTV, where he would perform his track They Found Him a Gun acoustically in 2009.
In late November 2010, Stafford would release his first mixtape, The Travelling Man. Early 2011 would again see Stafford continue to enhance reputation with another series of featured credits on tracks byChase and Status and Professor Green, before July of the same year would see the release of the lead single from his up-and-coming debut album, Lonely Are The Brave. The album would eventually be released in February 2012, and this release would give us the singles, I Need, No One, and Look What I Done to You, as well as the aforementioned Let Me Go.
Lonely Are the Brave would propel Maverick Sabre into mainstream music, and would see him feature on the line ups of various music festivals across Britain and Ireland.
However, it would be 2014 before we hear any new music from the talented young man from Wexford. Stafford has spoken about how he felt that he needed to start from the beginning again after Lonely Are the Brave, and also about a sense of disillusionment regarding the workings of the music industry that developed in the aftermath of the success of that album.
April 2014 would eventually see the release of the single Breathe, which would act as the lead single of his to-be-released second album. It would be followed by the release of a video for the remix single Emotion (Ain’t Nobody).
Walk Into The Sun, which Maverick Sabre would release in May 2015 would become one of the defining songs of that summer and along with fellow single, Come Fly Away, would reassert the music of Stafford in the minds of music fans. October 2015 would eventually see the release of the second album from Maverick Sabre, Innerstanding, which would be an accomplished collection of thirteen tracks featuring the two aforementioned singles.
Maverick Sabre’s music instantly demands attention. Whether it is the unique and soulful voice, the introspective and interesting lyrics, or the seamless way that Michael Stafford has managed to meld London grime influenced hip hop with a more soulful sound. It is a mix that is not often heard in modern mainstream music and yet Stafford’s ability to do it successfully demonstrates his talent in a clear light. This writer looks forward to listening to Maverick Sabre take his next steps with his sound and his career.