16.05.2019

The best (and worst) new singles: Alex Cameron, Kate Tempest and more

Words by Augustus Welby

An acclaimed yet widely unheralded South African pianist also features.

Kate Tempest – ‘Firesmoke’

Kate Tempest has a history of divining society’s psychological and economical ills. Her work isn’t a hammer to the brain – hopefulness is the driver – but the exalting tone of ‘Firesmoke’ feels novel. Tempest is more accurately described as a poet than a rapper, and Dan Carey’s low rumble electronics and keyboard chords bear little resemblance to contemporary UK hip hop. But the song’s outpouring of doting affection is still a stylistic anomaly. It’s not too schmaltzy for Tempest’s poetic flair to shine through.

Label: Fiction Records

Alex Cameron – ‘Miami Memory’

Alex Cameron risks self-parody. His ‘80s-tinged work recalls Kaputt-era Destroyer and Sydney cohort Jack Ladder. He sings in hammed up register akin to Murder Ballads-era Nick Cave (but without all the death). Cameron occupies a demarcated thematic zone, too. ‘Miami Memory’ contains many familiar visuals: strip clubs, bodily decay, orgasms, and tragicomic expressions of love. He’s in the clear for now, though, as his songwriting continues to sharpen.

Label: Secretly Canadian

Abdullah Ibrahim – ‘Dreamtime’

South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim started performing in the 1950s. He’s still finding things to say at age 84, supported by his horn-heavy septet, Ekaya. ‘Dreamtime’ begins Ibrahim’s forthcoming LP, The Balance, and it’s a beautifully measured composition. The record was tracked in one day but there’s no haste to the recording. Ibrahim’s piano conveys acceptance and he seems equally interested in exploring new ideas as conserving the legacy of Township jazz.

Label: Gearbox Records

NOIA – ‘Ciudad Del Humo’

A multilingual pop song from Brooklyn via Barcelona singer/producer Gisela Fullà-Silvestre, ‘Ciudad Del Humo’ is in constant motion. The rhythm section plies a house groove as Fullà-Silvestre steadily expands the percussion programming. It transports you to a summer party in the early evening; a breeze blows and your energy supply replenishes.

Label: Cascine