Ears Wide Open: Desi Valentine

Desi Valentine
Desi Valentine

Desi Valentine is a London-bred singer-songwriter who for the past few years has been plying his slick vocals and sartorial splendor in Los Angeles. His own work orbits the retro-soul world of Mayer Hawthorne and first-generation Fitz & the Tantrums. He released a handful of singles in 2016 — “Fate Don’t Know You” was a fave on the iTunes digital charts — and he lent his vocals to a couple other artists, including Unlike Pluto and Montolieu.

Like so many rummaging around soul music’s closet in search of something that fits in 2017, Valentine is on a dual quest: authenticity without mimicking his forebears and commercial viability without becoming just another interchangeable pop dude. So there is the new single “My Worst Enemy,” co-written by Morgan Taylor Reid and out today. It’s a loose-limbed pop-soul number that, refreshingly, keeps the production minimal. “We said, ‘What would Nina Simone do in this day and age?’” he told Ones to Watch, where the song premiered. “A throwback sound like this is about picking the right elements, as less is more. The Amy Winehouse album ‘Back to Black’ is a prime example and definitely a huge influence on mine.”

||| Stream: “My Worst Enemy”

||| Live: Desi Valentine opens for Vintage Trouble on Nov. 15 at the Wiltern. Tickets.