NORTH’s Stuart Wolfenden has enjoyed respectable success on screen. Roles in Coronation Street and Hollyoaks are where the actor’s notability lies. But beneath the surface lies musical history. It emergently bubbled in 2020 with the independent release of his debut album Songs from a Common Man.

The years since have seen the formation of NORTH, a project Wolfenden throws himself into with enthusiasm. Debut single ‘Recovery’ was released last April, described by Wolfenden as ‘a love letter and goodbye to the struggles of addition’. While an admirable first effort, smartly layered production was overshadowed by a somewhat theatrical performance.

The song remains on the band’s debut EP Rise, alongside performances that suggest both Wolfenden and NORTH are refining themselves.

Also released in 2022, ‘Manchester’ brims with colour. Gorgeously clear guitar lines glide throughout and a newly reserved Wolfenden sings conversationally, an approach suiting his voice well.

The final song ‘You’ is new upon the EP’s release and exudes a respectful nod to Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour. The inspiration is wholehearted – ‘You’ wouldn’t sound out of place on The Division Bell – but the musicianship falls short of pale imitation.

Instead, solos percolate the music gradually, building to a euphoric eruption. And this consummate guitar-paying combines with Wolfenden’s blissfully positive lyrics. ‘Better days to come/Brighter skies ahead/All because of you’ he exclaims.

Hopefully these words are prophetic of NORTH’s upcoming debut album, a record worthy of anticipation given the increasing strength of these releases.