Socialist Worker

Everybody Down: Kate Tempest's intimate and lyrical portrait of working class life

by Sarah Creagh
Issue No. 2403

Poet and rapper Kate Tempest

Poet and rapper Kate Tempest

Kate Tempest’s new album Everybody Down is about real life.

People we can recognise, places that seem familiar. The characters grapple with life—relationships, situations, thoughts and feelings that will ring true to us all.

And perhaps it’s the familiarity that creates such a sense of intimacy with her work.

The album introduces us to a group of characters whose tales interweave. Each track is a chapter in their story although also strong enough to stand alone.

A novel that follows the same characters will be out next year. Unlike much mainstream rap music there is no attempt to glamorise the hardships faced by her characters. They are not sure of themselves.

They struggle to get by with no hope of getting ahead. Their concerns are fairly trivial yet her lyrics pull you in to their innermost worries and let you understand something essential about them.

Expressing the realities of working class lives, the album is subtly political and feels modern and fresh even if you have heard her earlier work. 

The music echoes the pitch and pace of the story but it is the lyrics that remain centre stage and thankfully the music doesn’t intrude or distract too much. The story is complex, the delivery is intricate and I’m sure the album could be listened to on repeat and new layers will still be found.

Fans will be pleased there is new material to lap up and hopefully a live tour will follow the release.

Everybody Down, a new album by Kate Tempest is out 19 May, Big Dada records


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Article information

Tue 13 May 2014, 17:48 BST
Issue No. 2403
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