ALBUM REVIEW: Ghostpoet – I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Play It Again Sam

Released: 01.05.20






Image by Emma Dudlyke

Amidst the mire of our current malaise, in swoops the ever-enigmatic Ghostpoet (aka Obaro Ejimiwe) with an amply funereal yet invariably sanguine rejoinder to these uncertain times. Indeed, this is hardly new terrain for the twice Mercury-shortlisted electro-rapper-cum-indie-virtuoso – each of his four previous outings have not only presciently mirrored the fraught zeitgeist of their day, but more crucially, dredged the riverbed of our collective psyche for life-affirming respite.

With its deft balance of grim humour and glinting angst, I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep is rooted not in nihilistic scepticism, but rather an astute grasp of those contemporary complexities that squarely evince the sheer oddity of narrow taxonomies. Cerebral and visceral in equal measure, Ejimiwe’s searingly wry musings are, as ever, steeped in gravitas and woven through with both a sure knack for storytelling and well-honed eye for vivifying detail.

At times, there’s an ostensibly concerted effort to channel the Orwellian social commentary of HTTT-era Radiohead, as on the tautly moody lead cut Concrete Pony, which unpreachily extols the virtues of digital detox. Elsewhere, Rats In A Sack subtly but surely dissects both the skewed racial and political hierarchies that have long governed British social relations with mordant aplomb. 

Stylistically, the record builds further on the gutsy sonic palette of its acclaimed predecessor, 2017’s Dark Days + Canapés, with a sure-handed flair for indelible melody. Robustly angular riffs further heighten the noirish dread of paranoia-soaked second single Nowhere To Hide Now; meanwhile, the title track’s panoramic soundscape is adroitly peppered with punctiliously precise licks.

These punk-esque flourishes are tempered by gentler moments, courtesy of both the ominous tranquillity of This Trainwreck Of A Life and When Mouths Collide’s amorous melancholy. In tethering arresting introspection to mesmeric backbeats, both engender charged poetics that are lucidly structured and shot through with urbane wit. 

That said, it’s the languid transcendence of Social Lacerations that best attests Ejimiwe’s rueful charm. By the time its rapturous crescendo kicks into full swing, you’re at the point where, even as our hero resignedly laments his woes, it feels like being wrapped in a warm embrace.


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