Album: Stephanie McKay, Tell It Like It Is (Muthas of Invention)
Friday 25 July 2008
Stephanie McKay's debut McKay (2003) was one of Geoff Barrow's production projects while escaping from Portishead.
This follow-up is more reflective of her Bronx home, as on "Money" – not avarice, but the need for better housing. It can feel like a pastiche of the 1970s social conscience of Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield, as her music often does. But then you hear "This Letter"; written after reading letters to husbands in Iraq, its brisk soul harmonies are an affecting contrast to its message: "The President says it's just begun... but you can't wait that long to see your son."
McKay's nostalgia is for New York's early hip-hop days, recalled on "Jackson Avenue". She avoids the hair-shirt moralising rappers can fall into, singing: "I wanna live every moment like I'm out of my head" on the paean to credit-card-maxing "Oh Yeah". "This Letter" aside, there isn't enough grit to make her positivity feel earned, but her rewiring of Willy Mason's "Oxygen" as a Hammond soul hymn confirms an open mind.
Pick of the album:'This Letter', 'Oxygen', 'Oh Yeah', 'Where Did Our Love Go?'
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Daniele Watts: Django Unchained star's white boyfriend Brian Lucas confirms LAPD internally investigating 'racist' detainment
- 2 Isis release 'Flames of War' video warning Obama of attacks troops could face in Iraq
- 3 Pakistani passenger power forces two politicians off plane
- 4 Say yes to 'no-poo': It's been three years since I stopped washing my hair
- 5 John Travolta addresses former pilot's gay romance allegations publicly for the first time: 'That was the lowest I'd ever felt'
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter