mon 29/11/2021

Album: Katy B - Peace and Offerings | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Katy B - Peace and Offerings

Album: Katy B - Peace and Offerings

Peckham club queen's return after a lengthy hiatus, and she's feeling soulful

“Flashbacks / driving in your car volume pushed right up to max / all those late nights I’d try to drink them back” These are almost the first words you hear on this record, coming in as South London Afrobeats producer P2J’s bass tones roll in on the opener “Under my Skin”. And they’re a perfect introduction to the theme and mood of the record too.

It’s over five years since Katy B’s third album, Honey; back then she was still the unofficial narrator of millennial club culture, her songs perfectly catching the whirl of the dancefloor and hypersociality, locked exactly into the finest dance beats of the time. Now, she’s altogether more grown up, with grown up concerns, and a lot of that club life is in the rear view mirror (or it will certainly have felt that way this last couple of years). 

This is a low key release in several senses. At only eight tracks, the label refer to it as an EP, it’s been released without huge fanfare – and it’s downbeat in sound. There’s none of the house beats that Katy is most associated with, but rather laid back dancehall, hip hop, Afrobeats, neo soul and above all the golden age R&B of the late 90s and early 00s that she grew up on. Interestingly, the two tracks produced by Geeneus – low key legend of grime and funky house, mastermind behind Rinse FM and exec producer of all Katy’s records – also feature live musicians, harking back to her days jamming with various soul/jazz talents in The Brit School and Goldsmiths College. She’s not leaving clubs behind, mind: there’s plenty of groove here, and she’s signalled there’ll be other, less introspective, material to come. But all together it catches a mood. 

The lyrics too are brooding, caught up in the difficulties of adult life and entangled, obsessive or broken relationships. But this all absolutely works. It works because the R&B / soul style is perfect for these themes, because Katy is absolutely as at home in these styles as she always was in dance – indeed it was always a thread in her music anyway – and because her songwriting and voice is still absolutely distinctive. Both her turn of phrase and her singing style have always been clever but very subtle – miles away from the melodrama, slogans and athletic melismatics of US singers, she’s always been her natural South London self. And just as she was the voice of a generation while they were out dancing to dubstep, grime and funky house, so she represents her peers as they grow up and face life’s complexities. She is a national treasure, and it’s really, really good to have her back.

@joemuggs

Hear "Under my Skin":

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