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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
It would be impertinent to imagine that a mangy old Wolf might add
anything more valuable towards an appraisal of this wonderful album
than has already been consummately achieved in Mr Mair's fine review.

Like him I have been bewitched by this bright new talent.

Deft, light of touch, limber, elegant and strangely affecting.
Tales from a young life, candid, bleak and pained at times ('Searching');
warm and full of humour at others ('Buddy Love').

There is a remarkable maturity in both writing and production.

Her musical associates deliver a richly sensitive framework throughout.

The limpid arrangements deliver plenty of room for her distinctive voice to maneuver.

Standout tracks would have to include 'Daddy's Little Girl', a deeply moving
song which stares loss squarely in the face without fear; 'Go Then, Bye',
ambivalent and strong in equal measure and title track 'Speech Therapy',
a heartbreaking conclusion to a truly magnificent album.

Magical. Uplifting. A Real Urban Diamond.

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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 8 June 2009
It's not often that an album comes out of leftfield and enthuses me so much that I feel compelled to subvert the usual review style and just gush. For the sake of maintaining credibility I won't resort to saying 'This is amazing, buy it immediately' but I will avoid the usual generic intro paragraph and get right into the details.

Speech Therapy is Speech Debelle's debut full-length, having signed with Big Dada four or five years ago. Coming from a Jamaican South London family, and with a troubled background, she soon makes clear that this truly is a form of personal therapy.

If pushed to pigeonhole this release into an accepted genre, one would have to settle for 'hip hop'. As most will appreciate however, such a catch-all term tends to ignore all subtlety and originality. Indeed, on first track 'Searching', delicately picked guitar and mournful piano lines hint at something much more mature and nuanced than just 'hip hop'. This is an intriguing juxtaposition of assured rhymes, painfully honest lyics and genuinely soulful tunes... Speech Therapy is a product of influences in Roots Manuva, Norah Jones, Burial, Tracy Chapman, and Lauryn Hill but is so much more than the sum of its parts.
The immediate, most obvious detail is the evocative use of folk guitar and orchestral movements that instantly elevates this album musically above most other hip hop releases. The combination of ornate textures and accented London patter makes for an engaging listen. Further still, look beyond these flourishes and you'll find candid, intimate accounts of family, relationships, past failures and urban life, allowing you to connect with the material on a deeper level. Speech Debelle is taking you on a journey, at the end of which you may even feel you know her in some small way. This is not just 'hip hop'.
A fitting microcosm of the album is contained in penultimate track 'Finish This Album' which ironically was the first track that Speech approached Big Dada with. Lyrically the song plumbs the depths of her fears, thoughts and hopes, whilst a honey-like string motif glides along with it. The title track closes out the album with an air of melancholy, featuring some of the most gorgeous, yet sad guitar and violin on the album whilst Speech orates in sorrowful tones. It's not all gloom on the surface however; first single 'The Key' features jazzy clarinet refrains, whilst 'Spinnin' showcases a cheery ska bounce and 'Buddy Love' paints a picture of romance. Of course, paying attention to the lyrics will bring the mood back down, but for the purpose of keeping things fresh and not too downbeat, these songs work a treat. True enough, this is not just 'hip hop'.
On reflection, there a number of elements on this album which will appeal to a broad spectrum of music lovers . UK hip hop has needed a lifeline for a while and with an inevitable collaboration with Roots Manuva on 'Wheels In Motion' she plays to that crowd (whilst simultaneously superseding them). Meanwhile, the folksy guitar musings will appeal to the alternative, Juno-loving youth and the soulful, candid lyrics will be familiar to fans of story tellers like Tracy Chapman. This confluence of styles simply makes genre tags obsolete. In short, you'll be hard pressed to find another album this layered, thought provoking, and pretty all year. (Kiron Mair)

For fans of: Lauryn Hill, Roots Manuva, Jean Grae, Tracy Chapman, Norah Jones
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 January 2013
This album has slowly invaded my mind and now it's one of my "desert island discs"! I like the melodies, rhythms, beats, lyrics, instruments and production. I would not be without it.

I feel it's a pity this Mercury Music Prize winning album has been overlooked by so many.
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on 10 October 2010
My favourite rappers are Biggie and Nas. Why? because like all the greatest rappers they wrote/write about their life experiences in a way that made you relate. You can feel the joy and you can feel the pain, even if you are nothing like them. Speech has this gift. This is incredible heart-felt music.

The 'real band' music and hooks compliment her rhymes perfectly. Get this album if you like music that means something.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 21 October 2009
I'm pushing forty, I'm white, and I generally listen to rock and folk. So I'm guessing I'm not exactly Speech Debelle's typical target audience. But Mercury prizewinners have never let me down in the past, so I bought Speech Therapy a couple of days after the award was announced.

And Speech Therapy is a wonderful album. Interesting and varied, with very listenable lyrics and some great hooks. Her youth is obvious, but here that adds freshness rather than naivety. If you're wavering like I was, just buy it. I don't think you'll regret it.
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on 8 November 2014
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on 3 April 2015
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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 17 September 2009
Not somebody i was aware of until she was mercury nominated, but i love it. Great mix of styles and exciting and cutting edge. Great British talent. Fantastic album.
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5 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 9 September 2009
What's this like? Read on.

Well, on the upside the lyrics touch on modern day life and issues, but sadly only on a surface level, while the instrumentation is quite organic sounding and differs enough from track to track.

However, this album didn't do it for me, for these reasons;
It's a bit too much like a woman talking for a hour (if that's your bag then be my guest). I prefer music above talking, but more conventional music fans might find this more pallatable than i did. I live in London and have my headphones on whilst on the bus, etc, to avoid having to listen to the urban lingo, which is strewn with awful grammer and prenounciation, so i'm left thinking 'why would i want to listen to it accompanied by very loosely arranged music?'
The tempo of this album is all very one-paced with nothing to get even remotely excited about - this album scores very low for variation & excitement.

You could say that this is the best of this musical genre, unfortuntely it's a musical genre that, based on this album, is very limited, one-dimensional and not to my taste.
The Mercury music prize has done this to us before, of course, with Roni Size in 1997, but at least with that equally limited genre - Drum & Bass, the best, i.e. his New Forms album, was interesting, very listenable, and inspirational in places. Sadly this is a dead duck, in the same way Ms Dynamite was (Mercury winner 2002). How The Horrors - Primary Colours didn't win is anyone's guess, because it's the best album from the last 12 months, by some distance. Esser and Gomez will also be a bit miffed that they didn't get nominated ahead of this and some other limp musical offerings served up.
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