Friday, 19 December 2014

Albums of the Year 2014 #4 Kate Tempest - Everybody Down

She once described it as just a crazy idea that she had, but Kate Tempest’s Everybody Down has probably exceeded the rapper / poet /playwright and author’s dreams in terms of the public recognition that it’s received, culminating in a nomination for the 2014 Mercury Music Prize. As we’ve said before, this year’s prize list was a particularly good one – Kate’s record is the third to feature on our albums of the year countdown from the nominations.

In case you haven’t heard Everybody Down or know very little about it, this is a record that shares some similarities with The Streets A Grand Don’t Come For Free, in so far as it’s a story and tells the tale of a bunch of characters whose lives interweave with each other. That story is centred around a dancer, masseuse and student called Becky. Think Trainspotting but told from a female London perspective.

Recorded with producer Dan Carey (Bat For Lashes, Hot Chip) the album starts with Becky meeting Harry, a drug dealer to the higher classes in a bar filled with ‘industry slimeballs, showbiz big-deals, the cool new band with the retro feel’ with Harry immediately falling for Becky, but Becky leaving with her friends in a cab, seemingly not interested. 

From there the narrative develops and within it Tempest manages to deliver mini-philosophies on life as well as a fair degree of sentiment, ending with an idea that is sweet but never feels sickly in her hands; that love can win through and help save us.

Carey’s electronic and techno computerised production, with snatches of guitar matches well with Tempest’s excellent wordplay, shifting in style and atmosphere depending on the part of the story, giving the whole thing a real sense of being believable. 

Kate has come a long way in the last 10 years. Her previous album with the band Sound of Rum wasn’t particularly well received in all parts, the NME suggesting her lyrics were ‘emblematic of everything bad you heard about poetry slams,’ but with Everybody Down there’s been  little critical negativity.

This is very much a complete album - individual tracks sound weaker when listened to on their own. It’s only when you fit the whole thing together and listen to it from start to finish in one go that you feel its density and everything falls into place. Like all the best stories it’s also one that needs far more than one listen to get everything out of it, probably why we've played it so much since we first heard it. That's why it's no.4 in our list of most played records of 2014.

Kate Tempest - The Beigeness

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