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Album Review: Celeste – Not Your Muse

3 min read

Celeste is amongst a select few whose reputation as a talented artist preceded their debut LP. It is this talent that has already secured her a place in British culture; many music fans will recognise her from Jools Holland’s Hootenanny, while still more of the public will be unknowingly familiar with her, with her super funky song Stop This Flame being used as the theme tune for Sky Sports Premier League, and A Little Love being chosen for the John Lewis Christmas advert. Jools Holland, football, and the John Lewis Christmas advert – a sure way to embed oneself in the homes of the British public. Not bad for a relative neophyte of the music industry…

It works well, then, due to Britain’s obsession with the past, that everything about Celeste has a distinct retro feel, from her look to her music. Combine this with a big soulful voice, R&B vibes, and supreme talent, it is really no surprise that the debut album Not Your Muse and its creator are already held in such high esteem.

An album of marked gravitas, many of the songs are stripped back and do not boast ‘busy mixes.’ This reservedness captivates the listener who is thus more likely to find themselves deeply affected by the music. In fact, the vocals often seem to be low in energy, but this only demonstrates Celeste’s flawless effortlessness as a singer. Ideal Woman, Strange, Not Your Muse, A Kiss, and Some Goodbyes Come with Hellos are highlights that follow in this evocative vein, mainly focussing on warm fingerpicked guitar, attentively placed strings, and Celeste’s vocal dexterity that includes intoxicating high notes which are a mainstay of the album.

Don’t be fooled though – the album also contains some great upbeat tracks. As well as the aforementioned Stop This Flame, there’s Tonight Tonight with its in-your-face drum beat and brilliant chorus of heavily layered and reverb-treated vocals, while the staccato groove of Love Is Back sounds great and the song immediately makes you think of Amy Winehouse. The fact that comparing Celeste with one of the most beloved and highly regarded artists of all time is justified, shows just how talented this young artist is.

The deluxe version of Not Your Muse contains an additional nine songs that include collaborations, songs from soundtracks and previously released material. Father’s Son is one of the standouts of the entire album. The breath-taking synth refrain is one that was waiting to be written and the song has the effect of making you think you’ve known and loved it all your life. Rhythmic vocals are a synergistic element to the verses and a soothing chorus completes the song. Its content too, which tells of the clashing between a father and son, is of ponderable poignancy. The character rues the fact that he ‘could have been anyone’ and although he “tried to change”, he is inevitably and distressfully just like his father, a fact he is unwilling to accept and wonders ‘maybe I’m my father’s son or I’m nothing like you.’ Both Sides of The Moon is another favourite and one which I had on repeat when I first heard it. From when the first chord is struck and the first word sung, there is a palpable graveness and the way Celeste sings “I wonder how you leave” the second time round is one of those inexplicable musical anomalies that is ineffably potent to my ears, while the lyrics “did I deserve this” and “I’m hoping they’re just friends” are ones that also trigger a deep emotional response.

Celeste is an incredible singer. Her talent has already propelled her to high acclaim and her career will only grow, and with talent like hers, it will grow with limitless potential. Her mesmerising voice, fantastic songwriting and distinct style definitely make her one to watch.