Kem SoL brings the soul and ambience with consistently purposeful undertones, throughout the brand new album The Only Way Is Up.
Seductively melodic and soothing from the outset, the project attempts to create a sense of inspiring possibility – by way of realism and a fearless exploration of struggle on the road towards serenity.
Up is the opener and is all of this, softly-spoken bars and mellow, spacious production luring you in from the start, Kem SoL’s unmistakable voice meandering with confidence and a calm, captivating style. It’s a little Kendrick-like in depth and flow, but ultimately recognisable as the thoughtful poet driving through the major sentiments of this album.
Far from confined to a single mood, The Only Way Is Up soon flicks a switch towards upbeat good vibes, for the summer-ready anthem 1 Day. Another hit of positivity to further the embrace of the introduction, yet a funky, guitar-led and harmonised melodic track for a true change of aura. It’s catchy but fresh, and again maintains that recognisable Kem SoL identity.
The project continues in this way, loaded with optimism and uplifting grooves, from the personal strength and honesty of Carry On, piano-led and devotedly pure in both design and lyric, through the rhythmically compelling Water, and the deeply-provocative Questions.
Across the album, we get soulful hints of electric guitar, lo-fi rhythms, subtle vintage effects and an impressively versatile array of vocal outpourings. Always Kem SoL skilfully walks the line between alternative stylings and mainstream-ready hooks, melodies and anthems. There’s professionalism at the heart of every piece, but there’s also emotion and depth, and that balance works well to bring through a familiar connection with a respectable overtone of originality.
The project keeps on giving, forever inviting interest in the live show, the full-band set up, as much so as delivering that essential escapism music fans crave whenever the world gets a little too noisy.
Highlights include the breathy presentation, subtle funk and poetic observation of Family Tree, the warped smokey-jazz tones of Disguises, and the riff-led, intimate and unapologetically revealing Falling Apart. We then also get a sudden dance-pop hit in the form of Don’t U Worry, again reinforcing the wave-like rise and fall of the concept and the album in full – difficulty resolved by hope, strength and self-belief.
Loaded with sublime guitar and keys arrangements, simple yet striking, as well as faultless yet expressive vocals of notably eclectic origins, The Only Way Is Up makes for a blissful listen, and an undeniably memorable introduction to the one and only Kem SoL.