Solareye – All These People Are Me (3 stars)

All These People Are Me – Solareye

An eloquent and thoughtful solo debut from the Scottish poet/rapper

'Wake up man, wake up, let's go,' mutters Dave 'Solareye' Hook, otherwise known as the head of Scots rap group Stanley Odd, in the opening seconds of his new solo album, and it isn't just the first moments of the new day he's sloughing off. What comes through most clearly is that this is a record which attempts to maintain touch with its own wokeness, to orient Solareye amid 2018's mutating social and political reality while not losing sight of the personal and the local.

This opening track, 'Reconstruction', is a prime example, a piece of slow-jam psychogeography on which he pounds the streets of Edinburgh, recounting familiar sights through a class-detecting lens; 'a streetsweeper cleans up the mess left by George Street wankers in their gladrags / I'm allergic to sleazy suits worse than pollen' or '(there's) a boarded-up council building on South Bridge / it's called the Advice Shop, I guess they've none left to give'.

'Who the fuck am I?' he challenges on the following 'All These People Are Me', wrong-footing the listener with, 'I'm a beautiful butterfly.' There's a universality to Solareye's rhymes, and while his voice and his style is definitively masculine – much like his beats there's something indefinably retro about them, in fact, a soulful groove to his DIY edge that feels more Nas than Kendrick – his swagger speaks of thoughtful confidence rather than aggression.

The world he conjures is one where 'vodka and limeade' takes the place of gin and juice and druggy hinterlands exist where 'I take eccies for endorphin enrichment' over a clattering electronic beat (on 'High Spirits'). He recounts the laziness of hot Scottish days on 'Summer (Some Buzz)', tells a true and relatable tale off twenty-four hours in fatherhood on 'A Day Aff Wi the Wee Man' and debates his own position and responsibility as an artist on 'Didnae Get Repetitive'. All the while sculpting an album which speaks eloquently from the working class perspective – specifically a Scottish one – which the mainstream could do with hearing much more of.

All These People Are Me by Solareye is released on Fri 4 May by A Modern Way.

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