Kate Tempest :: Everybody Down (Big Dada)

The story of Everyone Down is like a super-cool modern gangster film of the Guy Ritchie and his contemporaries style, with many different sub-plots revolving around the different characters.

Kate Tempest is a big big name at the moment in the UK. There is a good reason for this, namely that she is phenomenally good. She is an acclaimed poet, a published playwright and a seasoned performer of her material, including an epic poetry show with live score. She is also pretty handy when it comes to making the subtle transition from spoken word delivery to rapping. Everybody Down is her first full length solo album, and has the talents of Dan Carey (aka Mr Dan) on production duty.

The album is pretty much a concept album, a format that fell somewhat out of favor around the latter part of the 1970’s. This is a thoroughly contemporary take on the idea though, putting it into a Hip Hop context. It’s a story, a peek into a world populated with incredibly well developed characters and threads of cleverly crafted plot lines. A world of gangsters, drug dealers and struggling underdogs, not portrayed with glossy glamor or promoting a high rolling lifestyle, but exploring human relationships, frailties, fears, hopes and dreams that can be recognized by everyone. Story telling is a very ancient art, maybe one of the oldest, and when it’s done right, it has the power to not just convey a tale, but to capture elements of what it is to be alive, to challenge conceptions and accepted knowledge, to initiate different ways of thinking and perspectives. There are things that we all have in common, and the skill of the story teller is to find these common threads and weave them together in ways that make us think or see differently, to recognize bits of ourselves in others and maybe see some of the ties that bind us all. The story of Everyone Down is like a super-cool modern gangster film of the Guy Ritchie and his contemporaries style, with many different sub-plots revolving around the different characters. Once you start listening, you really want to find out how it all ends. But in a way, the overall plot-line takes a back seat, and the real substance is the exploration of the individual’s stories and how they deal with the twists and turns of their lives. As I said earlier, the characters are incredibly well developed, and Kate brings out their vulnerabilities in a way that draws you into their meanderings and holds up a mirror for all of our own insecurities.

So, that’s quite a lot of stuff about the words, but this is after all a music release. The production is very high end, top studio stuff from one of the big name producers. But it’s done with real sensitivity to the lyrical content, allowing the vocal to take the limelight. It’s got more then a nod to the old school Hip Hop sensibility, but with plenty of freshness and groove. It’s almost written like a film score, with the music changing appropriately for different characters and scenes.

This is a big release with loads of hype, and sometimes that sort of thing can be hard to live up to, but this album is genuinely one of the best things I’ve heard in a long time. I strongly urge everyone to check this lady out if you haven’t already. She is a word wizard with a gift of storytelling that is not so common.

Everybody Down is available on Big Dada.

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