Speech Therapy CD
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Speech Debelle - Speech Therapy - Cd
Four things make newcomer Speech Debelle stand out from the rap pack: her articulate flows, her poetic swagger, her cinematic beats and, of course, her gender. While Speech Therapy is highly unlikely to go platinum, it is destined to become an album adored by musos, critics and intellectuals.
As soon as Speech Debelle's first verse drops on opener Searching, the stark contrast between her honeyed tone and mature lyrics makes this 25-year-old Londoner stand out.
Over a lounge-like guitar and heady percussion, Debelle sounds sweet and innocent until you focus on the actual words, '2am in my hostel bed/ My eyes turn red/ My belly ain't fed/ I got butter but I ain't got bread/ and I'm smoking on my last cigarette!'
On the surface, Speech Therapy is simply a fresh female rapping over honed, diverse production. Look deeper and you'll hear Speech lay her soul bare as she retells countless heart-wrenching life stories.
The ultimate tearaway is dissected over goose-bumping production on Bad Boy, 'He's made a couple G selling weed and selling E's!/ He's got a deadbeat Dad who beats his Mum real bad/ His Mum sits home all day drinking and smoking fags!/ He'll probably do jail time/ If he makes it to 25!'
The most touching number though has to be the dub-influenced Daddy's Little Girl. On this honest-to-the-core cut, Speech divulges the hurt caused by her father's absence.
In contrast, Spinnin is all about the dancefloor, with its bumpy, contagious, ska-influenced beats. While Working Weak sadly lacks both captivating lyrics and mind-blowing production, making it - no pun intended - weak.
The comparisons between Speech and her infamous label mate Roots Manuva (who features on mediocre number Wheels In Motion) are glaringly obvious. Intelligent, raw, poetic, honest verses cruise over high quality, orchestral production.
Gender aside, the main difference between Speech and Roots, though, is the former hasn't quite honed that hit-making formula, yet. To her credit, Speech Debelle has masterfully created an 'anti-hip hop' hip hop album of cult-like pedigree. --Elle J Small
Find more music at the BBC This link will take you off Amazon in a new window
Top customer reviews
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.
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
I feel it's a pity this Mercury Music Prize winning album has been overlooked by so many.
The 'real band' music and hooks compliment her rhymes perfectly. Get this album if you like music that means something.
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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