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Albums of the week - from KSI to Imelda May


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KSI album Dissimulation

KSI album Dissimulation

Press Association Images

The latest album from Imelda May

The latest album from Imelda May

Press Association Images

KSI album Dissimulation

YouTuber and rapper KSI releases his debut solo album, Dissimulation, while there is a collection of poetry by Irish singer-songwriter Imelda May.

IMELDA MAY - SLIP OF THE TONGUE

Irish singer Imelda May's first foray into poetry offers a variety of delights. Since starting out in 2002, she has forged a reputation for dependability - solid songwriting and enviable musicianship making her a darling of taste-makers like Jools Holland.

May's path has been one of low-key artistry rather than pop success. It's a surprise, then, that it has taken her so long to release a collection of her poetry, set against a variety of appropriate aural backdrops.

These are songs May tells to friends and family over dinner or a drink. As such, they are evocative and extremely funny, even when she deals with themes of abuse on the tellingly titled GBH. It's a pleasure to hear her stories come to life.

7/10

Alex Green

KSI - DISSIMULATION

YouTube star KSI, real name Olajide 'JJ' Olatunji, has released a debut solo album that will cement his place as a force to be reckoned with in the music world.

Dissimulation has popular tracks like Houdini, which features British rappers Swarmz and Tion Wayne and has already debuted on the UK singles chart.

KSI (which stands for Knowledge, Strength, Integrity) has also collaborated with some other impressive names here, including Offset, Rick Ross and Lil Pump.

The 26-year-old doesn't hold back in his lyrics and is out to prove the naysayers wrong - a job he does well - and this album is bound to earn him a lot more fans.

7/10

Kathy Iffly

SEBASTIEN TELLIER - DOMESTICATED

Sebastien Tellier competed for France in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest, arriving in a golf buggy with the Tricolour flag on the front and clutching a globe filled with helium which he inhaled from lustily, before joining five backing singers dressed to look like him in sunglasses and wigs.

He was robbed, coming 19th behind Albania and Azerbaijan, but enhanced his reputation for eccentric innovation, something his sixth album could do with more of.

Maybe the title reveals too much, as while it is tasteful and impeccably produced, there's little that's wild or untamed among the eight tracks here focusing on finding happiness in the domestic chores.

Opening track A Ballet sees washes of synths sailing on stately beats, with outbreaks of 80s yacht rock sax, before ending with tinkling piano. Stuck In A Summer Love is slightly more urgent, while Atomic Smile is another slow jam almost overwhelmed by autotune and closer Won finishes without leaving much of a trace.

The album lasts 32 minutes, so doesn't drag and is pleasant enough, but some of the audacity shown in his Eurovision bid could have made it essential.

6/10

Matthew George

NICOLE ATKINS - ITALIAN ICE

Nicole Atkins describes Italian Ice, her fifth studio album, as "an acid trip through my record collection". She couldn't be more right.

The New Jersey songstress draws on her myriad of influences for a record that evokes her home state, as well as the soulful sound of the place it was recorded: Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama. She eschews the trapping of contemporary folk and roots rock for something a little more psychedelic, steadied by the depth of her lyricism.

Like on previous records, she surrounds herself with a crew of ace musicians, from acts including Spoon, My Morning Jacket and The Bad Seeds.

The album reflects an artist experimenting while staying true to their roots.

7/10

Alex Green

ALEC BENJAMIN - THESE TWO WINDOWS

Alec Benjamin is something of an anomaly among pop performers. Initially signed to Columbia Records while still at university, he was dropped before he could release his debut album.

He played his songs in car parks outside Shawn Mendes and Troye Sivan gigs and handed out business cards, creating enough buzz to attract the attention of Atlantic Records.

On These Two Windows, his sweet voice and candied production belie his contemplative, often searing, self-analysis.

Jesus In LA reimagines the legendary bluesman Robert Johnson's Faustian pact with the Devil for the modern age, warning listeners not to look for Jesus "at a party in the hills" or "at the bottom of a bottle".

These Two Windows positions Benjamin among a new generation of singers - like Noah Cyrus and Billie Eilish - bearing their souls to the world.

7/10

Alex Green

Belfast Telegraph