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Compared to Simply Red's Mick Hucknall due to his Manchester, England origin, red hair, and R&B roots — the parallels end there, really — Gareth Daley kicked his career into gear once he submitted a low-key but affecting ballad, "Rainy Day," to the BBC. BBC 1Xtra placed the song, bearing a backing that resembled early-'70s Hi releases and showcased Daley's pained voice, in rotation. The following year, Daley co-wrote and appeared on the Gorillaz single "Doncamatic" and was nominated beside the likes of Jamie Woon and James Blake in the BBC's Sound of 2011 poll. In 2011, he collaborated with Wretch 32, another one of his fellow nominees, on "Long Way Home." The same year, he issued a remarkably polished ten-track mixtape, Those Who Wait, and made it available as a free download. Signed in the U.S. to Universal Republic, his label released one of its tracks, a steamy duet with Marsha Ambrosius titled "Alone Together"; the song entered Billboard's U.S. Hot R&B/Hip Songs chart in late May 2012. A few months later, "Remember Me" (featuring Sound of 2011 winner Jessie J) was released as his first U.K. single with the single "Broken" following in 2013. Days & Nights, Daley's proper debut album, was released in February 2014. Varied yet unified, it featured collaborations with Pharrell Williams, Bernard Butler, Illangelo, Andre Harris, and Happy Perez, among others.