The Toff is tightly packed. My friend and I—definitely the youngest people at the venue—push our way towards the front of the stage. I stand on my toes and crane my neck to find Imogen Brough, sitting alone behind a piano. I wonder whether the lonely piano will be enough accompaniment, given Brough’s acoustic style. I wonder whether she will need something else, perhaps some drums or even a backing track.
Brough’s voice stands out on its own, instantly filling the room.
* * *
Imogen Brough’s career as a musician has progressed rapidly since graduating from the Univeristy of Melbourne. In her final year at the Victorian College of the Arts, Brough recorded her first EP, Counting Waves, which she planned to sell at local gigs in her hometown of Geelong.
The record showcases her distinctive pop-Celtic style. “I listened to world music because of my Mum and Dad,” the 22-year-old tells me. “I’ve got really strong memories of being at kindergarten and coming home and that type of music was always being played. There’s something really earthy and primal that I connect to.”
A year after graduating, Brough decided to audition for The Voice. Although reality singing shows can be accused of creating unrealistic expectations on young musicians, Brough defended The Voice for its employment of blind auditions. “It’s not about what you look like,” she said. She also saw the television show as an opportunity to get her name out there for free.
Throughout her recent tour, Brough has predominantly performed original music, such as her recently released single “Heart”. “It’s been slightly modulated to be more epic and more dramatic. We worked in a big Celtic theme.”
Her voice has a strange and beautiful sound with a calming quality. The added percussion, strings, and choir enable her to create an enormous sound. It’s the sort of music you can imagine accompanying a heroic movie with princesses and dragons. “It literally motivates you,” Brough explains. “It’s one of those songs that makes you want to run and be the best you can be at whatever you want to do.”
“That’s important for music, it does inspire people.”
Brough’s Celtic sound has been compared to that of her musical idols, Enya and Coldplay. Further comparisons can be drawn with Florence and the Machine, an artist she covered on The Voice with an epic rendition of “Never Let Me Go”.