It feels like State has been waiting forever for Ebony Bones! to release her debut album. The singer, who’s real name is Ebony Thomas, ditched an established acting career in 2005 (she was a cast member in the British TV drama Family Affairs for seven years) and turned to music, starting off using beer bottles, pots and pans as percussion instruments whilst recording in her bedroom. Her early singles, ‘We Know All About You’ and ‘Don’t Fart on My Heart’, both drew critical praise, being championed by the likes of Jo Wiley and Zane Lowe, and the attention resulted in a deluge of festival bookings, including stints at Glastonbury for the past three years. Behind the scenes, Ms. Thomas took her time in the studio to record and produce her first collection of songs.
The wait has been well worth it because Bone of My Bones has turned out to be an exhilarating mishmash of musical styles; fusing rock, pop, electronic, hip-hop and everything in between. Songs like ‘The Muzik’ and ‘When it Rains’ are brimming with mightily danceable beats, which have no doubt contributed in no small part to Ebony Bones’ popularity with festival crowds. And intertwined with the instrumentation lies the voice of a lyricist with a lot to say. Thomas aims a scornful salvo at ex-lovers on a number of tracks, including the heartrendingly melancholic ‘Guess We’ll Always Have NY’ and the more gutsy ‘Smiles & Cyanide’. She’s not afraid to tackle the bigger issues either, dealing directly with the issue of race on ‘Story of St. Ockwell’ – a reference to the area of London where Brazilian man Jean Charles de Menezes was shot by police in a case of mistaken identity. Other numbers, including ‘In G.O.D. We Trust (Gold, Oil & Drugs)’, sees government policies also coming under scrutiny.
In a way, Bone of My Bones could be considered a rarity simply because there’s no filler to be found on any its 12 tracks. What we have here then is an LP that sucks you right in and doesn’t spit you out until the very end. It’s engaging and, despite some of the subjects being dealt with, it’s also a lot of fun. It’s quite an accomplished first effort, to say the least, and at a time when annual ‘best of’ lists are being drawn up, Ebony Bones! has delivered a late contender for debut of the year.