Speech won a Mercury for her debut – the intimate, confrontational confessional of Speech Therapy. On Freedom Of Speech she turns her attention outwards to the dystopia of modern Britain, with a verve and vigour that more than justify the early hype.
Production from Kwes is deep, powerful and slick, combining exquisite live instrumentation with intricate programming. Speech outlines a political and spiritual philosophy born of personal pain and an acute political consciousness, her voice recorded close to the mic, projecting straight into the brain of the listener.
Standout track Blaze Up A Fire featuring Roots Manuva and Realism is an intense but understated response to the riots that rocked the country in the summer of 2011, and the perfect example of the kind of 'studio backpack rap' which Speech Debelle endeavours to rehabilitate with this album.
This is classic UK hip-hop which acknowledges its roots in the political soul of Curtis Mayfield, the conscious reggae of Bob Marley, and effortlessly carries similar weight and depth. Absorbing, epic, heartfelt and delicately nuanced – a marvellous album.