A potential Mercury winner...
'Shedding Skin'

In the blur between hip-hop, soul and poetry, Obaro Ejimiwe's weathered urban wisdom has found peace. Progressing as an easy-flowing troubadour still sticking to his guns, the signature after-dark Ghostpoet sound dissipates, making pithier his pained points in Cockney patter.

'Shedding Skin' hasn't deserted the monosyllabic, insomniac musing that punctuates croaky wisdom and simple-cum-brutal barbs and observations. But it does set up its orator for an accomplished role of rock maverick below the pop radar.

As per the title, Ghostpoet is stripping back to an unfussily strong band setup of guitars, pianos and drums. The electronica and psychedelica of Ghostpoet's building blocks 'Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam' (where 'Finished I Ain't' and 'Liiines' are 'Shedding Skin' blueprints) and 'Some Say I So I Say Light' (likewise 'Plastic Bag Brain' and 'Meltdown') bleed through gradually and naturally; a silent partner providing a spectral backbone to the patient piercing of noir-ish twilight, completed with a concluding release of angst and calm acceptance.

In embracing the rebooted live experience, compelling rhythm is essential to Ghostpoet's progression. It brings new flexibility, humility and weariness where authoritative tenor remains, and in a way, a better-channelled confidence throughout each narrative; perhaps in part to several female confronters who open up track perspectives further.

'Be Right Back, Moving House' is a touching recall utilising the artist's recurring vulnerability that seems to hit harder third time around. 'Yes, I Helped You Pack' is the quietly disturbing tip of the iceberg, and 'That Ring Down the Drain Kind of Feeling' wallows to the brink. Don't be surprised if Ghostpoet is on Mercury minds once more with this excellent effort.

8/10

Words: Matt Oliver

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