There's a reason that Speech Debelle's debut album is called "Speech Therapy" and that's because she speaks straight from the heart, with complete intimacy, as if only addressing one person. As if she expects the record never to be heard.
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Perhaps in some way, that's not an unreasonable assumption. The 26 year old South Londoner has been through the mill both before and since she started working on this set of recordings. The oldest song on here is called "Finish This Album". It was the tune she first played when she visited Big Dada at the start of 2005. Its theme is that she has to hold it together, look after herself and try to get the record done, as if the act of finishing will somehow liberate her from the problems in her life. It's both intimate and epic, moving back and forth between the personal and political, the mundane and the spiritual. It's a journey acoss London and a journey across her life thus far. Speech is both young and old beyond her years. At the age of twenty six her fragile voice can make her sound like a teenager, but she's packed in enough experience to last most people forever.
But now, finally, everything has come together and the record is here. "Speech Therapy" is a statement of intent. Speech doesn't need to shout to make that clear. This is a record which sounds like no hip hop.