There's something intriguing about Speech Debelle, with a voice both husky and sweet, and a back story that's emotive if unclear (she spent time living in south London hostels as a teen after a split with her family, perhaps over her refusal to get a job). What's more, the music on her debut, craftily produced in the main by Wayne Lotek, is acoustic, jazz-inspired and, on songs like Spinning, quite beautiful; not something that can be said too often about debut UK hip-hop albums. Consider Debelle's couplets for too long, however, and they can start to seem platitudinous: "Things must get better/Because after every storm comes good weather" on Live and Learn is a typical example. Musically, too, some of the weaker numbers (Go Then, Bye; Buddy Love) can pall, sounding as if they were composed over the course of a relaxing afternoon in the lobby of a boutique hotel.
Pop review :Speech Debelle: Speech Therapy
Paul MacInnes is a reporter for the Guardian