Speech Debelle - Speech Therapy
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She’s been tipped as “South London’s Latest Rap Sensation” but the singles prove there’s more to Speech Debelle than headline writer hype. She’s now 25 but his is no overnight sensation as it’s was 5 years ago that she went to see Big Dada and played them ‘Finish This Album’. That’s the oldest tune on the album which not only shows she’s got a sense of humour, but that she’s written and recorded a dozen quality songs since.
And then, it’s not an easy listen - therapy is not an easy option as she pours life’s problems out. It mostly seems personal and then she’ll get political and then spiritual and then just every day things that’s got on her nerves. Her fragile voice makes her seem vulnerable and she’s either a [un]healthy imagination or too much life-experience for someone so young, you can’t help but feel an empathy.
We’re told that ‘Searching’ came about when she was introduced to Wayne Lotek (Lotek Hi-Fi) and the acoustic guitar and the brushed drums were the perfect atmosphere for Speech’s reflections on hostel life.
Nothing on Speech Therapy is like Lotek Hi-FI, perhaps as Lotek was living in Australia with his girlfriend. In November 2007, Speech flew out to Australia and there, with a bunch of live musicians Wayne knew locally, plus the additional producer Plutonic Lab (responsible for the clarinet-fanfares of single ‘The Key’ as well as the widescreen drama of ‘Better Days’) recorded most of the album.
‘Daddy’s Little Girl’ has raised comparisons with other absent father tunes (notably Martha Wainwright’s dig at Dad Loudon Wainwright III) and then there’s the story of office life drag called ‘Working Weak’ (yep, like much of her lyrics, close to the bone) and ‘Bad Boy’ bravardo.
Mike Lindsay (from Tunng) show that he’s not only interested in side projects like
Dread Keys’ input into the latest single, ‘Go Then, Bye’ is a la Space and it’s one of the many standout tracks.
There’s not much to be negative about Speech Therapy; if pushed, the strings on the title track sounds to me as if they’re going to burst into an Irish fiddle version of ‘Stairway To Heaven’ (but that’s my nightmare) and Lindsay’s ‘Live & Learn’ has some school choir like chorus which doesn’t work for me. That apart, this is a Tracey Chapman-esque break-through album of massive proportions; it’s going to be big!
Reviewed: Speech Debelle - Speech Therapy (Big Dada) Cat. No. BDCD137 Release date: 1st June 2009
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