Everybody Down isn’t a record to cherry pick your favourite tracks from, it isn’t a record to stick on shuffle, it isn’t a record to let run in the background while you do something else. It requires, no demands your attention from the very off. To skip through it would be akin to trying to follow a novel by reading pages at random. That’s because the debut album from Kate Tempest owes as much to the literary form as it does anything from the music world. It’s no surprise when you consider her background – poet, spoken word artist, playwright, squatter and Brit School alumni. If you should expect anything from her first long player, it’s that it’ll be a serious piece of work.
And it is, but always in a good way. Spread over twelve songs, Everybody Down weaves a tale of inner city London through the lives of a number of characters. It’s a clever move – the background may be a familiar one but by giving it a human (albeit fictional) element it becomes a story that engages you far more than any standard media reflections. Nor is it all doom and gloom, focusing on the desire to seek a better life, even if the methods may not be ideal. Thus the sex industry, crime and having to deal with idiot music video directors all loom large, yet it’s an uplifting tale and – like any good novel – you find yourself hanging on to discover what happens in the end.
It’s not just about the words, though. Producer Dan Carey has created a musical landscape that perfectly matches the narrative. As you might expect it’s very much the sound of young London, all bass and beats but Tempest’s warm delivery keeps it firmly on the human side. It also ensures that, although you’ll never quite recapture the magic of hearing it for the first time, Everybody Down will still have you coming back for more.
Ultimately, though, this is Kate Tempest’s moment. Not that she hasn’t had many along the way already, but this could well be her finest hour so far.