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Dave - We’re All Alone in This Together Music Album Reviews

Dave - We’re All Alone in This Together Music Album Reviews
The British-Nigerian rapper’s second album is as ambitious, technical, and deeply felt as his first. It is sure to keep his star on the rise. 

Throughout the 1990s, genocidal conflict tore through the former Yugoslavia. People in the region fled for safety; many arrived on UK shores. At least one study found that those resettled in Britain suffered more trauma than those who had remained in the Balkans. In 1948, a passenger liner called the Empire Windrush arrived in London from the Caribbean. The ship’s name became synonymous with a generation of immigrants ushered over to Britain by its former colonial governors to plug labor shortages resulting from the Second World War. Seventy years later, in one of the biggest British political scandals in recent memory, it was revealed that the UK government had wrongly deported scores of Windrush migrants, stripping them of their homes and identities. They await their reparations.

These are not subjects that warrant light treatment. The British-Nigerian rapper Dave studies all three simultaneously, threading narratives with gravitas and filmic flair in a shade over five-and-a-half minutes on “Three Rivers”—a highlight on his towering second album, We’re All Alone in This Together—managing to comb in discussion of domestic violence, depression, and an oblique confrontation of the current UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, who last year admitted that her own immigration policies might have prevented her parents from moving to the UK in the 1960s. It is a feat of technical prowess, historical acuity, musical derring-do, and one that Dave makes look easy. No wonder millions hang on his words.

Since releasing his debut album Psychodrama in 2019, Dave’s star has barely faltered. He’s bagged pretty much every major musical accolade the UK has to offer, almost overshadowed Stormzy’s headline slot at Glastonbury 2019 after inviting a young fan on stage to trade bars with him, and called the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, a racist on live TV during a spine-tingling performance of “Black” at the Brit Awards (one Labour Party politician called it the “best political speech” they’d seen in a decade). His activity outside of music has only propelled him further and higher. He took a role in Netflix’s Drake-assisted reboot of Top Boy, the gritty UK series depicting austerity, power struggles, and drug wars in a fictional East London. He was with Daniel Kaluuya when the actor picked up his Oscar this April (Kaluuya crops up offering words of advice across the album). He was there, lurking quietly, when Kaluuya, along with Giggs, Damson Idris, and others generated a semi-viral moment by debuting as the “DSS” or “Dark Skinned Society”—doing nothing more than hanging out in the West Coast sunshine. In short, his feet have barely touched the ground. So the challenge he faces with We’re All Alone in This Together—maintaining his position as a freshly-installed spokesperson for his generation—has only swollen. Dave confronts it head on.

We’re All Alone in This Together begins with the pips of a film reel cue mark and follows a cinematic three-act structure. The opening action sequences—rap flexing churned with rage-fuelled tirades on social inequalities—slide into scene-setting Afrobeats and alté boogie assisted by fellow Nigerians WizKid and Boj, before winding up with elongated stretches of searching inner monologues that reach for some closure. Opener “We’re All Alone” offers a microcosm of this arc. A gut-wrenching switch midway through—punchy drums evaporate to solo piano as Dave says, “I got a message from a kid on Sunday morning/Said he don’t know what to do and that he’s thinking of killing himself”—comes after the rapper is done swaggering through his favorite worldly foods, holiday destinations, and car brands. The shift might seem crass if it wasn’t for Dave’s willingness to open up in return: “Me and him got more in common than he thinks.” This moment introduces the path he will tread across the album’s 12-track, hour-long narrative, diluting braggadocio with heavy doses of reality. On “Survivor’s Guilt,” the album’s final song, he flips a UK rap cliché of the drug-dealing motorway trip into a moment of extreme vulnerability, as his crippling anxiety leaves him “crying in the driver’s seat.”

There are a few constants throughout the album’s broad arc. Dave’s wordplay is, by this point, unrivaled. Whether running through his watch collection or picking apart immigration policy, nearly every line packs multiple meanings. He doubles and triples up on entendres. The other recurring element is Dave’s piano which, again, twinkles under boasts just as reliably as emotional breakdowns. With such grand ambitions for an album, these spinal elements—just as Psychodrama was structured around a fictional therapy session—are more than necessary.

At moments, the record sags under its own weight, especially in the final third, from the James Blake-conducted and ShaSimone-featuring “Both Sides of a Smile” to the forensic, 10-minute self-examination of “Heart Attack.” Both tracks could support essays of their own. Their weighty presence might be aided, as in all great cinema, by moments of levity. The snippets of conversation lifted from studio sessions—reflecting the type of reasoning that takes place in Black barbershops throughout London and beyond—offer a binding agent. But there’s a lot to hold in here. Dave’s mother’s tearful exhortations at the end of “Heart Attack” are as close to a pressure release as the album’s closing sequences get.

This heaviness isn’t strictly reserved for international politicking. Dave frequently trains his pen on issues closer to home. He has a unique ability to explain and contextualize the concerns of the young and marginalized, without preaching or patronizing. Two years since his last album, many of the struggles he addresses are the same. London is on course for its worst year of teenage killings since 2008, and on “Heart Attack” Dave tussles with his powerlessness to affect change, along with the guilt and pressures he feels as a second-generation immigrant (“I think back to my youth and I was so ungrateful/How many of our parents had dreams they abandoned/So they could put food on the table?”). The best communicators show, rather than tell. Dave is on his way to mastering this subtle distinction.

For being just 23, Dave raps as if he’s lived several lifetimes—perhaps because, like so many of the immigrant kids he writes for and about, he’s had to grow up faster than most. That’s not to suggest that younger artists aren’t capable of insight or potency, but rather that Dave still has so much to show the world. The choral posse cut “In The Fire” brings together multiple generations of the UK’s still-blossoming and belatedly-appreciated rap scene, and crowns him as its new ringleader. We’re All Alone in This Together isn’t Dave’s magnum opus. But the best thing is, he’s just getting started. We’re barely past the opening credits.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Dave - We’re All Alone in This Together Music Album Reviews Dave - We’re All Alone in This Together Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Wednesday, August 04, 2021 Rating: 5

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