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Sway - The Signature LP

Sway, The Signature LP

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

SWAY is an urban artist, like Dizzee Rascal and Roots Manuva, who has managed to transcend his genre of music to occupy a space on the cusp of the mainstream.

His debut LP This Is My Demo was Mercury nominated and his follow-up, The Signature LP, only looks certain to underline his reputation as a tireless performer with a strong capacity for diversity.

If anything, it’s a much better album than This Is My Demo, but while there are some fine moments (and collaborations) when Sway – aka Derek Safo – really impresses and looks capable of wider appeal, by refusing to turn his back on his roots completely he ultimately suffers for it.

So, while songs like End Of The Road, featuring Coco, or Saturday Night Hussle, with Lemar, really do broaden Sway’s appeal, more urban moments such as F UR X, with Stush, don’t.

If anything, The Signature is an album of two distinct halves… and for once, the more commercial aspects are the more appealing.

Album opener Fit For A King displays the scope of Sway’s ambition in suitably impressive fashion, assuming an almost cinematic bombast, while Say It Twice drops fun lyrical observations about what to expect from the latest LP with a sharp, snappy beat.

Saturday Night Hustle, meanwhile, rewires and revamps Alexander O’Neil and Charelle’s classic ‘80s duet Saturday Love to clever, appealing effect.

But just when you think Sway has banished some of the aspects that bedevilled his debut, F UR X marks a backward step and sets the album back. Its follow-up, Jason Waste is another mind numbingly bad track.

Look After My Girl, with Darren B, marks a return to more commercial and appealing territory, while Sway demonstrates a genuinely heartfelt side over the deeply personal track Pray 4 Kaya. It’s well worth listening to the lyrics.

Walk Away, meanwhile, is an impassioned plea to turn the other cheek, and its honesty is sobering and refreshing (especially when set against the context of the big US rappers).

If Upload and Stereo mark the sound of Sway at his worst and most unappealing, he comes back strong again with Letter To Heaven, another frank, honest observation on modern life that compares favourably to Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip’s Letter From God To Man.

So, while not entirely successful, Sway is an urban artist to be applauded for so many reasons. His lyrics mostly buck trends, his music is capable of wide appeal, and while there are some mis-steps, his Signature LP is a very encouraging sophomore effort.

Download picks: Letters To Heaven, Saturday Night Hustle, Pray 4 Kaya, Walk Away, End Of The Road

Track listing:

  1. Fit 4 A King
  2. Say It Twice
  3. Saturday Night Hustle – Sway & Lemar
  4. Silver And Gold – Sway & Akon
  5. F UR X – Sway & Stush
  6. Jason Waste
  7. Look After My Girl – Sway & Darren B
  8. Pray 4 Kaya
  9. Walk Away
  10. Upload
  11. Stereo
  12. Letters To Heaven – Sway & Leo
  13. End Of The Road – Sway & Coco
  14. Special Place

  1. Are you having a laugh??? Upload and Stereo are Sway at his best

    bigdog    Oct 7    #
  2. There are only 3 songs i didnt like. upload, stereo and special place. i thought jason waste was hilarious, and all the other tracks are great. To me it seems that you are an american who doesn't understand the grime side of sway, which is why you don't like f ur x either.

    ffg    Oct 21    #