Greatest hits: album reviews

Music review: Ghostpoet's latest - shaking off desperation for hope

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 March, 2015, 10:57pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 April, 2015, 4:56pm

Shedding Skin
Play It Again Sam

The third album from Coventry-born, Mercury Prize-nominated mumbler Obaro Ejimiwe, aka Ghostpoet, sees a shift away from the sparse electronic beats that formed his first two critically acclaimed albums towards more indie alt-rock textures.

Self-produced and recorded with a full backing band, there's a more natural warmth to the gritty realism: the left-field, street-poet moody monologues here are of a hopeful melancholy, rather than the depressing desperation of previous album Some Say I So I Say Light. Despite the live instrumentation, the smoky trip-hop fug still hangs heavy, but the emcee's engaging Saaf London drawl is allowed more space to breathe and flow.

The atmospheric guitars and drums mimic the hypnotic glitchy beats, with Ejimiwe's baritone complemented by a diverse array of guest vocalists. On Be Right Back, Moving House, Maximo Park's Paul Smith adds some ghostly vocals, while soulful songstress Nadine Shah appears on two tracks, X Marks the Spot and That Ring Down the Drain Kind of Feeling, a song about self-doubt and the unpleasantness of lost love: "I'm back where I started again/ Left broken hearted/ But maybe my heart's on the mend", Shah mournfully slurs over a solitary guitar riff, juxtaposing nicely with Ejimiwe's languid delivery. "She was the apple of my eye/ But that apple turned rotten".

On the Etta Bond duet Yes, I Helped You Pack, about domestic violence, Ejimiwe evokes the claustrophobic best of Maxinquaye-era Tricky. Shedding Skin is an album of intense storytelling that brings a welcome glimmer of light to dark days.