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Everybody Down
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  • Falling somewhere between John Cooper Clarke and Scroobius Pip, or the Streets and Samuel Beckett, London's Kate Tempest is a poet/rapper, and the real deal on both sides of that slash. Everybody Down, her debut album for the Big Dada label, could be considered performance poetry -- just like her piece Brand New Ancients, which was performed with orchestral backing at London's Battersea Arts Centre and won the Ted Hughes Award for innovation in poetry that same year -- but the music from Dan Carey is beat-driven, street stuff, plus if the urban characters that wind in and out of this story aren't wearing hoodies and sneakers, it must because they're taking their weekly bath. That's the problem with the aptly titled Everybody Down, as this concept LP deals with three characters who are so lonely, they've become spiteful, sullen, snide, and self-destructive while only speaking of hope as something encountered in dreams. It's a drab palette with the only wash of color being how skillfully Tempest paints the picture. Besides, it's easy to slide into unattractiveness when your ex-convict uncle comes around and gives a look that says not "I love you" but "This is business and you should go" ("To the Victor the Spoils"), and while Brand New Ancients had its share of phoenixes, this one is all about the ashes. Even if Everybody Down is all thrills, pills, and bellyaches, and mostly the last, Tempest is only 27 and already dealing in pop music as high art. Forgive her for not raging against the darkness, and then delight in how she sings the fallen and forgotten's song so well. ~ David Jeffries
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