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Kate Tempest - The Book of Traps and Lessons (Album Review)

Wednesday, 19 June 2019 Written by Jacob Brookman

Photo: Julian Broad

Will Kate Tempest be poet laureate at some point? It’s hard to identify a more prominent young poet in the UK, especially when one considers the fearlessness with which the Londoner broaches contemporary issues, political division and personal introspection.

Her second album, ‘Let Them Eat Chaos’, spoke about a world spinning out of control. This, her third, deals with a world where all is lost. "I see how blind I’ve been said all prophets, too late," she declares. "All humans, too late."

‘The Book of Traps and Lessons’ has reined in some of the drum loops of previous offerings, pushing Tempest’s poetry front and centre with freeform soundscapes and textural melody beds that give space to the verses.

The result is a more conceptual record that would work as easily in a concert hall as at an arts festival. Indeed, her forthcoming reworking of Sophocles’ Philoctetes at the National Theatre is testament to a broadening creative output that has already seen three published plays and one novel.

Standout tracks here include the album’s centrepiece, All Humans Too Late, from which the above quote is taken. This a capella piece emerges from the superb, mournful love poem I Trap You with shocking cogency that lives long in the memory: “The racist is drunk on the train / The racist is drunk on the internet / The racist is drunk at my dinner table / Shouting his gun shots and killing us all.”

Elsewhere, People’s Faces paints an equally vivid image of British society crumbling over the self inflicted trauma: "My country’s coming apart / The whole thing’s becoming / Such a bumbling farce / Was that a pivotal historical moment / We just went stumbling past?" It’s a deeply troubling verse from a writer who takes Brexit as seriously and personally as anyone.

In many ways, Tempest’s bars here resemble the work of Zack de la Rocha on Rage Against The Machine’s ‘The Battle of Los Angeles’. There is a feeling of fin de siècle about words that tell dangerously upsetting truths. She is a pointedly unflinching spectator, and when paired with excellent backing music as it is here, the effect is frequently overwhelming.

Kate Tempest Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed June 19 2019 - CATFORD Broadway Theatre
Mon October 14 2019 - OXFORD O2 Academy Oxford
Tue October 15 2019 - LONDON Eventim Apollo
Wed October 16 2019 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute
Fri October 18 2019 - LEICESTER O2 Academy2 Leicester
Sat October 19 2019 - BRIGHTON Dome
Sun October 20 2019 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol
Fri November 08 2019 - NORWICH Norwich Nick Rayns LCR UEA
Sat November 09 2019 - SHEFFIELD O2 Academy Sheffield
Sun November 10 2019 - MANCHESTER Albert Hall
Tue November 12 2019 - LEEDS Belgrave Music Hall
Wed November 13 2019 - CARDIFF Tramshed
Sat November 16 2019 - GLASGOW Old Fruitmarket
Sun November 17 2019 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Boiler Shop

Click here to compare & buy Kate Tempest Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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