Speech Debelle: Speech Therapy (4 stars)

Speech Debelle: Speech Therapy

Sister label Ninja Tunes has recently diversified out beyond the stoner electronica it’s been famed for with quality acts like Yppah and Fink, and now hip hop heavyweights Big Dada are proving they’re no slouches either. First came the post-Basement Jaxx funk of Thunderheist, and now they bare their soft underbelly with a tremendous debut album from a singular performer. Speech Debelle, a 25 year-old south Londoner, is in possession of a pretty special voice, a wistful croon and a purring rap style, and her dryly funny observations and careful, evocative storytelling suggest the four years it took to make this record was time well spent.

The album shimmies between brittle acoustica, as crafted by her collaborator Lotek, and warm, bubbling dub pop. Spiritual godfather Roots Manuva is on hand to croon a chorus on ‘Wheels in Motion’ and Micachu and Mike Lindsay from Tuung are on board too, but Debelle is very much her own woman.

This is what Lily Allen wishes she was: insightful, soulful, beguiling; reflecting a young woman’s life experience in vivid colours.

(Big Dada)

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