Corynne Elliot, better known as Speech DeBelle, may have been the only person unsurprised by her 2009 Mercury Prize win. Beating the likes of Kasabian, La Roux and Florence & The Machine, one listen to her thrilling debut Speech Therapy and you couldn’t imagine it any other way.
Social commentary over a variety of musical genres is not an innovative concept, but DeBelle’s contemporary and straightforward philosophising mixed with show-stopping production quality signal the arrival of an authentic talent.
Brassy jazz and gutsy beats excel on Spinnin’, the kind of tune Lauryn Hill would be making if she was around in 2009. The Key fuses a breezy arrangement of oboe & cello with DeBelle’s sassy girl-next-door attitude, “I’m getting older now and I’m starting to make sense of it, I’m seeing signs, reading minds like hypnotists, understands the figures like arithmetic and my guess is, people are bad man.”
Go Then, Bye shows a vulnerable quality, both lyrically and compositionally, incorporating acoustic guitars and poignant strings. Bad Boy’s aggressive beats are reminiscent of Rihanna’s Umbrella and the chorus is simplistic yet memorable, again aided by dazzling instrumentals and a dramatic drum ‘n’ bass outro. Equally prominent is Better Days with a hauntingly soulful chorus.
DeBelle’s electrifying debut is not for everyone, but the deserved Mercury-winning combination of first-rate production and clever social commentary will enthuse anyone in search of the next Lily Allen or The Streets.
Key Tracks: Spinnin’, The Key, Bad Boy, Better Days