At home they call him a ‘heartland rocker’, a British take on Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty. Just like these Americans, Sam Fender is a storyteller on a mission. The indie singer-songwriter from the northern city of Newcastle wants to be the voice of his hard-working generation, the much-maligned millennials. He writes earnestly about the big issues of today, such as fake news, sexual harassment and privacy, but also with humour. Ben Howard’s manager saw Fender perform in a pub and needed no more convincing. The BBC has ranked Fender in the Sound of 2018, among other promising newcomers. Elton John and Paul Weller have come out as fans. His hit album ‘Seventeen Going Under’ (2021) is a letter to himself at 17 (he’s now 28), at which point he saw his life going in the wrong direction. Music was his salvation.