Second studio album by the British rapper, featuring the singles 'Watchtower', 'Off With Their Heads' and 'Rewind'. The album has received critical acclaim and features vocals from Ed Sheeran, Wretch 32, Katy B and Diane Birch and production by Labrinth, TMS and Naughty Boy. This deluxe edition includes a bonus DVD which features a documentary entitled 'A Moving Picture: Making the Album' as well as 'Watchtower' (music Video - Short Film Director's Cut).
Grime’s enjoyed a golden age of chart success lately, but long-time fans of the genre have been left counting the cost.
Back in 2009, Dizzee Rascal and Tinchy Stryder sparked an industry goldrush when they discovered that sledgehammer-subtle electro house and big RnB vocals was the way to make a fast buck. The likes of Chipmunk and Professor Green soon followed suit.
Dagenham boy James Devlin signed with Island as part of this wave of would-be crossover acts, having cut his teeth on the underground with the OT and Movement crews.
His label debut, Bud, Sweat & Beers, was more interesting than most, showcasing an angst-ridden talent whose eclectic style had more in common with The Streets (another urban-suburbanite), and whose socially conscious flows put him on the same page as Plan B.
If the record lacked a compelling enough vision to make it a classic, then it was certainly a promising start. Alas, A Moving Picture proves a more nakedly ambitious – in the humdrum sense of the word – follow-up, which struggles to strike the right balance between street cred and pop appeal.
Sun Goes Down sets the tone from the off; the buzzing rock guitars, will-to-overcome lyrics and ‘emotional’ chorus refrain recalling Tinchy and Pixie Lott’s Bright Lights. Katy B lends the endeavour some of her trademark class, but it’s a box-ticker at best.
Ed Sheeran collaboration (All Along the) Watchtower is pretty dreadful; a flimsy cross-branding exercise based on the Bob Dylan song of the same name, as covered by Jimi Hendrix. And single Rewind, with a chorus from Diane Birch, sounds like Eminem’s sappier material. It’ll probably be massive.
Devlin sparks on darker material like the So Solid-ish Really Cold and Off With Their Heads, a Wretch 32 collaboration that sounds like a string-laden Ni**as In Paris and makes for a thrillingly tense four minutes. Ghost Ship is excellent, too.
Elsewhere, though, introspection grates, and occasional detours into sentimentality don’t help – Mother’s Son sounds like Tupac at his mawkish worst. A Moving Picture might well make a star of Devlin, but it doesn’t always best serve his talents.
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