Follow Us on Twitter

Lady Sovereign - Public Warning

Lady Sovereign, Public Warning

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

LADY Sovereign is unashamedly the UK’s equivalent to Missy Elliott. But she’s also fiercely and proudly British.

While success in America could have seen her jumping ship in favour of slick, Neptunes-produced records and MOR-style ballads with like-minded artists, she’s opted to keep things distinctly her own. Hence, Public Warning is as raw as we’ve come to expect from the artist, tackling everything from the reality of life in Tony Blair’s Britain to social faves such as shepherd’s pie and Tango fizzy drinks.

Musically, it mixes up musical genres, fusing rock with rap, punk with grime and injecting a liberal sprinkling of pop. Yet it’s not quite the success story it likes to think it is.

Vocally, she’s nowhere near as assured as Missy Elliott and a little too raw. And some of the beats and melodies just don’t work.

Opening track 9 To 5, for instance, lacks something – namely The Ordinary Boys. Put together, the mix of lad-rock and urban grime offered a winning pop formula. But it feels a little naked without the presence of Preston’s cheeky-chappy contributions.

Gatheration fares better, it’s electronic loops and Sympathy For The Devil-style “whoa, whoas” combining well to create a genuine booty-shaker. But Random is clearly striving to be a Missy Elliott cut, complete with “cha-ching” vocals and a driving beat that’s lifted straight from Pass That Dutch. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but in this case it merely serves to highlight this album’s shortcomings.

Elsewhere, the title track attempts to combine rock and grime to awkward effect and emerges as quite annoying, while Love Me Or Hate Me invites people to pick where they stand in regard to her music. She professes she doesn’t care but we suspect otherwise.

Lyrically, there’s lots to admire. Lady Sovereign’s reflections on what it really means to live in Blair’s Britain is often biting – My England, in particular, debunks some of the myths surrounding English culture and, for that reason, it’s one of the album highlights.

While Those Were The Days offers a winning mix of smooth groove R’n‘B style guitar licks, finger-clicking beats and savvy lyrics that combine to create a radio friendly whole.

But tracks like Tango, A Little Bit of Shhh and Hoodie invite easy comparisons with artists such as Plan B, Dizzy Rascal and The Streets and feel a little too generic. The grime scene is a busy one at the moment but there’s a big gulf between what’s good and what’s not.

There is hope for Lady Sovereign. Her music has been embraced as emphatically by American listeners as it has English ones (she played Times Square with Gwen Stefani and the Pussycat Dolls on New Year’s Eve), but the album as a whole is a hit-and-miss affair.

It’s simply not the landmark release that it professes to be.

Download picks: Gatheration, Love Me Or Hate Me (Remix), Those Were The Days, Blah Blah

Track listing:

  1. 9 to 5
  2. Gatheration
  3. Random
  4. Public Warning
  5. Love Me or Hate Me
  6. My England
  7. Tango
  8. Little Bit of Shhh
  9. Hoodie
  10. Those Were the Days
  11. Blah Blah
  12. Fiddle with the Volume
  13. Love Me or Hate Me [Remix] – Missy Elliott, Lady Sovereign