Kyan's Soulful 'Stratosphere' Is Your Ticket to Walking on Air

U.K. singer rockets beyond his talent-competition past on new R&B stunner

Kyan 'Stratosphere' premiere
Kyan Kuatois
Philip Sherburne WRITTEN BY
Philip Sherburne

Back in 2010, when he was 20, Kyan Kuatois made it as far as the semi-finals of Must Be the Music, a British talent competition judged by unusual triumvirate of Jamie Cullum, Sharleen Spiteri, and Dizzee Rascal. ("Britain needs talent like you," Cullum told him after his audition performance.) The following year, he released his debut album, Conversations, a soulful — and surprisingly solid, for a talent-show alum — showcase of both his songwriting and his stunning voice.

Sadly, it doesn't seem like Britain, or anywhere else, got Cullum's message, but now we've got a second chance. Following his recent single "Rosetta" — and a rippling remix from Kelela compadre Kingdom — Kyan is back with "Stratosphere," a song so stacked with buoyant harmonies that it sails right past its title's coordinates and keeps on going. He's clearly a keen student of Stevie Wonder (and, why not, maybe Lenny Kravitz — just check the squealing guitars towards the end). The song's production, meanwhile, nails the sturdy-but-sleek, retro-not-retro funk sweet spot, making for a refreshing change from all the gauzy etheR&B haze that has clouded the air in recent years.

Listen to "Stratosphere" in full below.

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