Album review: Ghostpoet - Shedding Skin
PUBLISHED: 06:30 02 April 2015
A live band energises this third instalment from the languid hip-hop maestro.
Four years on from his Mercury-nominated debut, Peanut Butter Blues And Melancholy Jam, Obaro Ejimiwe, aka Ghostpoet, strikes into new sonic territory on his brooding third LP.
Matching his languid baritone to a live band for the first time, Ejimiwe’s weary delivery of mature, observational lyrics retain their power but don’t proffer the same engaging wordplay as his earlier output, shifting the focus towards the music.
This is no bad thing as Shedding Skin offers a clutch of atmospheric, absorbing and sometimes testy arrangements to match the subject matter.
The title track is deeply atmospheric; prickly percussion skittering over a prowling bassline drone and defiant Ejimiwe’s unblinking instruction to “simmer down”.
The abrasive synth struck through Yes, I Helped You Pack illuminates a gritty vignette of domestic violence, and That Ring Down The Drain Kind Of Feeling mines Portishead’s trip-hop aesthetic of electro, samples and live instruments – all the more redolent with pangs of guitar, wobbly organ and reverbed vocals from Nadine Shah.
It’s not perfect – the syncopated drums of Better Not Butter jar slightly – but picking holes feels pretty disingenuous in light of such a cohesive and compelling piece of work.