Anyone keeping an eye on the career of Speech Debelle will know that she had a surprisingly tough time of it despite winning the Mercury Music Prize in 2009. Yet what ‘The Power Of Speech’ gives her is exactly that, an album that finds her coming back stronger and more determined than ever, without ever getting close to a sell out. Fighting back through music and words, Speech gives us upfront (‘Studio Backpack Rap’), breezy (‘I’m With It’), quiet determination (‘Blaze Up A Fire’, a duet that further explores her vocal chemistry with Roots Manuva) and, above all, songs of real substance in ‘Elephant’ and ‘Eagle Eye’. The latter comes out with the priceless lyrical snippet ‘you can’t clip these wings’, a suitable soundbite for the rest of the album – especially when ‘Sun Dog’ signs off with the closest thing to a ballad she’ll ever write. Not without its flaws – ‘The Power of Speech’ drags a bit through the middle – this is however an impressively steely resolve, showing that Speech Debelle is most definitely in for the long haul.
5 out of 5
Reviewed By Ben Hogwood