Graham Reid | | <1 min read
This mostly impressive but slightly unfocused debut announces the arrival of another post-rap soul singer from Britain – think a less wimpy James Blake crossed with the musicality of Michael Kiwanuka – who mixes electronica, Marvin Gaye, innercity blues (the fear-filled Blood On Me about “grey hoodies, they cover their eyes”) and some outer space consciousness.
The staccato trodding beat and aching Timmy's Prayer is a co-write with Kanye West for whose Life of Pablo album he contributed Saint Pablo.
But love and family is at the centre here – the album is dedicated to his late parents – and on the pivotal track No One Knows Me Like The Piano (“in my mother's home”) he addresses the pain of losing his mother. It is spare and sincere, but too much of it remains on the same emotional frequency and feels somehow incomplete.
He certainly doesn't spare himself and opens up about failings (the multi-textured electronica of Reverse Faults with “this anger's tearing me apart . . . and I blamed you”), and his imagery is certainly an unusual amalgam of science and technology (the outerspace vibe of Plastic 100 Degrees) with the spiritual.
There's a lot of clever production gone into this and Sampha Sisay has certainly made an impression with this, but it feels slight in places.
A good album but not the best he will make.