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Monday, 16 April 2018

'Novelist Guy' & 'Wade in the Water'

The following were worth noting amongst the reviews in yesterday's Observer

Novelist: 'Novelist Guy' - 'This is, for lack of a better word, a conscious album: there aren’t any shanks or mentions of weed, nor is there any disrespect to women. God gets a lot of shoutouts. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when God entered Novelist’s narrative, but a great deal of the rectitude on here has its backup in the musician’s faith.

You can’t help but wonder how Novelist’s audience will take to it, and to his reappearance after such a long absence; Novelist was incandescently hot three years ago. Grime moves fast and Novelist isn’t quite who he used to be.

However, Stormzy demonstrated that faith doesn’t exactly play badly on a grime album – the video for Blinded By Your Grace Pt 2 (ft MNEK) has 5.5m YouTube views. And neither does conscience: witness again Stormzy’s refusal to let the Grenfell Tower disaster be forgotten. Grime is now a maturing genre, with room for a multiplicity of voices and subject matters. And in Novelist, grime now has an upstanding and versatile outlier.'

Tracey K. Smith - 'Wade in the Water' - 'Her offbeat, spiritual poems are her boldest – where it seems almost as though she is putting together a DIY Bible.

In Hill Country, God drives round in a jeep with the windows down and wonders whether there is “something larger than himself rearranging/ The air.” In Beatific, an arresting (in every sense) poem, a man obliviously crosses the road and there is a hint this down-andout pedestrian could be a messiah. In The Angels, we meet a pair of Hells Angels: “Grizzled,/ In leather biker gear” who prove “Emissaries/ For something I needed to see”. They reek of “rum and gasoline” but, like many angels before them, tell us “not to fear”. This startling poem ends with other celestial sightings – laid on thick, poetic impasto. Yet the ending is beautiful and bare. It gives us “night” where “light” was expected: “My mother sat whispering with it/ At the end of her life/ While all the rooms of our house/ Filled up with night.”'

Tracey K. Smith - Wade In The Water.

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