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Speech Debelle - Speech Therapy

Speech Debelle, Speech Therapy

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

SPEECH Debelle has called her album Speech Therapy because she speaks straight from the heart. The songs that comprise it are intensely personal and often quite nicely produced.

It features artists such as Roots Manuva and Micachu and boasts production values from the likes of Tunng, Lotek Hi-Fi and Plutonic Lab. And it’s an LP that manages to confidently transcend the potential limitations of its genre.

Speech Debelle is an urban artist/rapper on the Big Dada label and her work shares plenty of comparisons with everyone from The Streets to Roots Manuva to Missy Elliott.

Most fans will belong to the urban category, but there’s plenty of crossover potential when the album really looks to broaden its appeal.

Admittedly, tracks like opener Searching don’t do it that well and feel a little constrained by genre, in spite of some lush background instrumentals that combine lovely acoustic guitar licks with nice electronics.

But Better Days, her collaboration with Micachu, thrives on a big-beat bedding reminiscent of trip-hop and the music of Bonobo, and Spinnin’ is just a funky little party anthem that unfolds into the album’s best chorus.

Former single Go Then, Bye is an excellent break-up anthem, too, built around more acoustic licks, a sombre violin accompaniment and some frank lyrics.

That same frankness is evident on Daddy’s Little Girl, which laments the absence of her father, and the humble album closer Finish This Album, which ensures that the album draws to a close in suitably endearing fashion.

Roots Manuva even sings on his collaboration, Wheels In Motion, and his presence should win Speech some more fans.

As an overall experience, Speech Therapy is a long listen that may test the patience of some who wouldn’t count the urban scene as their music of choice. But it’s a damn fine offering for those who do… and one that does, indeed, boast genuine crossover appeal, and the arrival of a talented new singer/rapper to boot.

Download picks: Better Days, Spinnin’, Go Then, Bye, Speech Therapy

Track listing:

  1. Searching
  2. The Key
  3. Better Days
  4. Spinnin’
  5. Go Then, Bye
  6. Daddy’s Little Girl
  7. Bad Boy
  8. Wheels In Motion
  9. Live & Learn
  10. Working Weak
  11. Buddy Love
  12. Finish This Album
  13. Speech Therapy