• Callum McWilliams

Kate Tempest - 'The Book of Traps...' Album Review


Kate Tempest is back with a darker, heavier, beautiful sound. And we should all be here for it. With her 3rd album, The Book of Traps and Lessons, Tempest further cements her place as one of the finest contemporary wordsmiths this country has to offer. As if it was ever in doubt.

Maybe it’s because the country is so divided and angry - the British existential angst runs deep in this one. 'Keep Moving Don’t Move' sounds like a scaled-up Fiona Pitt-Kethley poem. On 'Three Sided Coin' the ghostly wandering keys and production provides the perfect eerie landscape for Tempest to sketch a damning picture of our demonic leaders. The distant instrumental of 'I Trap You' transports me straight to a flickering old visual of a 1940s British seaside town, slowly decaying and falling apart, to be forgotten forever.

When I was slumped in a chair listening to 'All Humans Too Late', I slowly stopped everything I was doing, ‘our partners don’t know us, our families are strangers, our friends make us nervous’ along with 3 more minutes of just those signature Tempest tones crushing me. Full disclosure, I was listening alone at 1am with an aggressively greasy hangover, so I was a bit more emotionally susceptible than usual. Then after breaking me down into a static mess, the rally cry of 'Hold Your Own' built me right back up. I think possibly the most beautiful 4 minutes of her already incredible discography. The two tracks go together to create something like The Streets’ track 'Empty Cans'. And if my love for Mike Skinner is anything to go by, know that is the highest possible praise. If you don’t have time to listen to all 45 minutes of this, listen to those two tracks back to back. After doing that you’ll find the 45 minutes.

Throughout what is undoubtedly the darkest Kate Tempest there is to date, there's a deep sense of societal dread, but there’s also a distinct optimism. Fantastic fantastic flowing production (especially in the second half) that does exactly what it should, provide the perfect canvas for Tempest to paint. Not to mention the stunning ode to Kate’s partner and muse, Firesmoke - ‘my visionary is a vision/ I watch her dancing by the window/ And it rips my flesh to ribbons/ and the whole world is just ribbons’ Probably don’t slam The Book of Traps and Lessons on the BBQ shuffle playlist, but do send it to anyone & everyone you’ve ever loved. And maybe your MP as well. Why not I guess?

9.5/10.

Check out the album in full below:

#KateTempest #spokenword

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