Connor Selby might be blues music's next big star, and he's off to a flying start

Connor Selby
(Image credit: Rob Blackham)

Connor Selby has the hallmarks of a ‘blues guitar prodigy’: the adolescent bedroom beginnings; crazy-high levels of knowledge and skill; a serious monobrow. But unlike so many others, he’s all about songs. 

“I can appreciate virtuosity like anyone can,” he says. “But if you want to connect with people, songs are the way to do that.” 

Selby makes good on that belief with his self-titled debut, a startlingly mature collection of bluesy rock’n’soul, flecked with countrified yearning and jazzy undertones. There are at least as many nods here to storytellers like Ray Charles, Hank Williams and Patsy Cline as to the Claptons, Kings and Bonamassas of this world. You’d never think this was the work of a 25-year-old Essex guy in 2023 – an impression boosted by lovelorn lyrics, which portray a battered old heart that’s been around the block. 

“I mean, it’s not literally about relationships I’ve had,” he admits. “Some of them are, but the music that I gravitate towards is really built around that. It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you’re from, everyone goes through that stuff. That’s why I enjoy writing about it.” 

A naturally serious, solitary child who moved house a lot, Selby spent his formative years in Dubai before winding up in Essex, where he currently lives with his parents. By the age of 10 he’d fallen in love with the blues. In Dubai he ingested his father’s classic rock and roots music, gravitating towards the likes of Eric Clapton, BB King and the Delta voices that preceded them all.

“I just really love old music,” he says. “Music is like a tapestry; you can follow it back and learn about how it’s evolved through history.”

Upon moving back to Essex in his teens, it was his guitar teacher who nurtured this passion, allowing the young, introverted blues aficionado to just be himself. “At lunchtime I used to go and hang out with him, we would just play, and he always respected my love for the blues.” 

He found a meditative head-space on stage, moving from jam nights and pubs to small clubs and upward through the blues circuit. While studying English at university he completed his debut album (now set for re-release through Mascot Records), leading to an opening slot with The Who, as well as Pearl Jam at last year’s BST. 

This year he’ll tour with labelmate Beth Hart, bringing the soulful ensemble feel of his record to life. It’s a gear-change from the largely solitary nature of his relationship with music – poring over blues, jazz and soul records in his bedroom, stirring ideas into his own stories. 

“I don’t really have a right to sing the blues in the way that the original guys did," he says. "But what I do have is just a genuine love for it, and respect. And hopefully that comes across.” 

Connor Selby (Deluxe Edition) is released on March 3 via Provogue/Mascot Label Group.

Polly Glass
Deputy Editor, Classic Rock

Polly is deputy editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she writes and commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage), and has interviewed rock's biggest and newest names. She also contributes to Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. Elsewhere she's had work published in The Musician, delicious. magazine and others, and written biographies for various album campaigns. In a previous life as a women's magazine junior she interviewed Tracey Emin and Lily James – and wangled Rival Sons into the arts pages. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.