Celeste - Compilation 1.1 Album Review
Having released her second album, being named BBC Music Introducing's Artist of the Year 2019 and Brit’s Rising Star Award (formerly known as Critics’ Choice Award) all in one week will make it one to remember for Celeste. Following a rapid accent to the spotlight, the young R&B artist continues to impress with her chilled vocals and laid-back beats in her new album Compilation 1.1.
The opening love ballad 'Strange', which was also released as a single, highlights the enticing huskiness to Celeste’s vocals while also being reminiscent of Solange, who she also cites as one of her contemporary inspirations. ‘Father’s Son’ becomes an earlier contender as the stand-out track of the album, with the hook “I heard it’s in your blood” hanging off the beat so effortlessly, while the rest of her lyrics having a dismissive, shoulder shrugging tone that is dripping in attitude.
‘Summer’ absorbs you into a claustrophobia which has become a notable style of Jeshi, who features on the track. Both artists embody the lulled beat with their moody lyricism and vocals, foreboding what comes next on the album. ‘Ugly Thoughts’ continues the vibe with the heavy drums seducing you into her doubtful lyrics that slide from verse to verse. A sprinkling of brass and keys brings a jazz inspired fusion, adding drama to what could be seen as a very one-dimensional album. Similarly, ‘Coco Blood’ feels deeply personal. “Miss my dad but I'm not mad/I'm cocoa butter/Old man in a new Jag'/When I die, this coco blood is skin-tight” references her father, who prematurely died and who she includes as an influence on her musical taste after discovering his old vinyl collection. As the final track of Compilation 1.1, the lyricism shows her dedication to her writing and is what ties the whole album together.
In many ways, Celeste’s sophomore album feels very much like an extension of The Milk And The Honey released in 2017. The songs at the beginning of the album having a similar sound to ‘The Milk and Honey’, whereas ‘Ugly Thoughts’ and ‘Coco Blood’ incorporates the same elements as ‘Chocolate’. Considering her debut album consisted of only three songs, Compilation 1.1 sounds as though it is finishing the conversation with a maturity that was not as eminent two years ago. Despite the Californian-born artist finding a home with her fusion of jazz and R&B, I sense there are ripples of potential that are yet to surface; I reckon the Brit’s Rising Star Award has got it right again.