With his debut album as Ghostpoet, London MC and producer Obaro Ejimiwe declared his love of not only hip-hop, electronica and trip-hop, but also of blues, jazz, electro and straight-up indie pop. Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam heralded the arrival of a fresh, young voice that chimed well with then current enthusiasm for Jamie Woon and James Blake, but spread itself rather too thinly, its rampant diversity signaling a fuzziness of intent as much as broadmindedness. Nonetheless, it bagged a Mercury nomination. Now, the follow-up.
Some Say I So I Say Light is not only a more focused and purposeful record, but also a braver one, yet t sacrifices none of the strangely sun-dappled anxiety or quotidian, small-hours doubt that is Ghostpoet’s trademark. Leaving his bedroom for a studio has seen his production talents mature, too and he strikes a smart balance between vocal intimacy and textured electronic cool. His voice — equal parts Gil Scott-Heron and Tricky – is the album’s heart. Warmly cracked and with an oddly alluring, catarrhal thickness, his sprechgesang deals with everything from the gradual growing apart in a relationship to spending too much money on Amazon. It’s offset to fine effect on “Dialtones” by Lucy Rose’s distanced cooing and on “Meltdown” by alt.folk singer Woodpecker Wooliams.
Gone are the Beck-ish blues, electro and indie elements of Ghostpoet’s debut; he’s now opted for a far more cohesive and dynamic style of post-everything hip-pop. It’s one that allows for chip-tune freneticism with strings and heavily treated vocal loops (“Comatose”), surging and euphoric Afro-beat (“Plastic Bag Brain,” which features drumming don Tony Allen, and guitarist Dave Okumu of The Invisible) and an adventure in pulsing synth house (“Dorsal Morsel”). All represent the confident and considered pushing of his parameters by a distinctive talent who’s in it for the long haul.