Kate Tempest – The Book of Traps and Lessons
On The Book of Traps and Lessons Kate Tempest wraps warm words around the shoulders of lives made wretched by those who breathe easiest
'I can’t wait for the weekend / I’m staying in bed', Kate Tempest coughs on Three Sided Coin, barely there at all. Across The Book of Traps and Lessons, Tempest crawls through the drip tray of society: hatred, online misery, violent division and the normalisation of fascism. A natural empath, she wraps warm words around the shoulders of lives made wretched by those who breathe easiest.
Where Let Them Eat Chaos raged and writhed against the oncoming collapse of decency, daring to believe that humanity was worth saving, this time Tempest allows herself to sink in disgust. Her company is sparse and ominous, with cellos and cavernous piano chords overwhelming the rhythms at every turn. Anything approaching a groove fades to silence, often mid-song, replaced by everyday terror: 'Mentholated paste on the bristles / Scrub the enamel / Now shoelace / Hands like somebody else’s / Where are the hands from before? / I was ten years old once / Life got quiet last night'. All Humans Too Late is an empty prayer for oblivion, apoplectic in its horror at what we’ve become. It’s brutal, overwhelming and almost hilarious that this was given a summer release.
Nonetheless, Tempest is too invested in people to let herself drown in despair. Hold Your Own marks a turning point, a beautiful organ-led plea to clutch your loved ones forever, while pre-release red herring Firesmoke is sensitive and erotic, so painfully exposed in its devotion. Tempest finds the anger again on Holy Elixir but drags herself back to hope once more, defiantly coming to rest with People’s Faces, cleansed of fury and with a wistful half-smile. It's a journey both admirable and extraordinary; a monumental achievement that stands utterly alone.
Listen to: Three Sided Coin, Hold Your Own, All Humans Too Late, People’s Faces