Since the release of his debut album in 2012 - ‘Long Live The Jazz’ - Swindle has become immersed in all facets of the UK’s diverse underground music scene, through projects with distinctly different artists from UK soulstress Mahalia, to grime’s most revered figure in D Double E, proving there is no limit to his creative vision.
Swindle’s latest album is the culmination of these diverse creative forces. ‘No More Normal’ features a host of both pivotal and growing artists in the UK, from reggae artist Kiko Bun, to soul singer/songwriter, Daley, to rising hip hop talent, Knucks, as well as more familiar names such as Kojey Radical, D Double E, Ghetts, P Money and Nubya Garcia. With these different artists Swindle fuses traditional to old school jazz, soul and funk with the energy and passion of grime. There’s no greater example of this than ‘Take It Back’, which brings together grime legend D Double E and reggae artist Kiko Bun for an incredibly smooth pensive track. Swindle’s stripped down arrangement illuminates D Double’s lyricism, along with warming synths gushing in and out, bringing the track to life.
D Double isn’t the only grime artist to feature on the album: with ‘Drill Work’ Ghetts delivers a punchy, hard-hitting lyrical display over Swindle’s slick dynamic production, built with the ferocious momentum of his strings arrangement.
A rare (but most definitely welcomed) feature comes from Andrew Ashong, who’s managed to build a loyal following since his EP in release through Theo Parrish’s Sound Signature label in 2012. Ashong’s soft and gentle voice invigorates and lifts the track, to the backdrop of vivid synths.
If D Double E, Ghetts and Andrew Ashong represent the underground establishment, the addition of the likes Kojey Radical, Knucks and Eva Lazurus demonstrate the voice of the next generation. Eva Lazarus cuts deep with her imagery in the opening ‘Knowledge’, then switches to more soulful tones on ‘Talk A Lot’.
Kojey’s feature on the stunning ‘Grateful’ is a real standout: its beautiful harmonised vocals are delicately poignant - resonating through the stripped back, steady build of instrumentation.
There is so much right about this album that it’s hard to criticise: Swindle’s vision to blend different worlds of underground music, together with his choice of features - as well as intriguing changes in pace - are what makes this album great.
Words: Kofi Yeboah-Mensah
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