Album reviews: Shedding Skin by Ghostpoet; Pleasure and Pain by T’Pau

Shedding Skin by Ghostpoet
Shedding Skin by Ghostpoet
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Ghostpoet’s third album is somewhat a leap into unfamiliar territory for London-based musician Obaro Ejimiwe.

The record’s title, Shedding Skin – taken from one of the album’s ten tracks – is a fitting name for a body of work that shifts Ejimiwe’s music into a larger sound-scape. The self-produced Shedding Skin also features a number of guest vocalists, including Nadine Shah, Lucy Rose and Maximo Park’s Paul Smith.

The new record narrates observations made by Ejimiwe, which all fuse together into a great album to listen to front to back.

Highlights include the title track – a hypnotic and brooding harmony song with x-rated lyrics and a groaning bass line. Moving into Yes, I Helped You Pack, another harmony track, the mood lifts to follow more of a beat.

The single stand-out would be the trippy ‘ballad’, Sorry My Love, It’s You Not Me; again lead by a drum and bass combo with sparse guitar chords floating in and out, Ejimiwe successfully creates a spacey pinnacle.

Not unlike a slightly less downbeat 21st century version of Tricky, Ghostpoet’s psychotropic sound, matched with Ejimiwe’s mumbling vocals, make for an earthy and introspective album. This is one for the late nights.

Seventeen years after Carol Decker last got into the studio to record a full album, the T’Pau singer has well and truly proven she still has the voice and songwriting ability that took her to number one in the 1980’s.

Pleasure and Pain is very much an album for lovers lost. Angsty tracks like I Think About you and the lead single, Nowhere, describe the hopelessness of losing ‘the one’, and dealing with the aftermath.

There are, however, hopeful moments on the record, too. Change Your Mind deals with letting go without giving up hope, whereas Last Temptation is one of the few moments of true joy within the 11 songs.

Despite being a cottage industry, recorded and mixed at original guitarist Ronnie Roger’s studio, the mastering is professional and slick.

Eighties synths make an ominous appearance on Demolition Man, a track composed by Decker and Roger’s in their heyday. Miraculously, they have managed to save it from sounding kitsch.

As is ever present on all T’Pau albums, there are the snarling ‘F.U.’ tracks: this time represented by Read My Mind and the record’s finest moment, the closer, One Lesson In Love. Evoking the mindset of a jilted teenager, Decker snarls the line “Someday somebody’s gonna see you burn, I hope it’s heavy and it really hurts” - ouch.

Although not packaged in the elaborate fashion her former top 10 albums may have been, Pleasure and Pain is the ultimate example of not being able to judge something by its cover. A great up-to-date record, with the sound of clashing guitars and smooth synth lines, which also evoke memories of T’Pau’s heyday.

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