Kate Tempest: “Lonely Daze”

It’s common to call rappers storytellers given their narrative-like lyrics, but the adjective rings especially true for recent SXSW artist Kate Tempest. The British musician is a published poet as well as an MC, and the songs on her debut album, Everybody Down, feel like interconnected short stories. Her flow is conversational, of course, but her attention to detail is what really stands out.

“Lonely Daze” continues the tale of Pete and Becky (Becky is first introduced on “Marshall Law”), two regular kids whose intertwined story feels exceptional in Tempest’s hands. It’s the account of young lovers, too scared to make their move but trying to anyway. The final verse is the gut punch: “He stands there awkward / His eyes are as loud as the bass / And she can recognize something in his face / She scribbles down her number / Lingering glance / And lets herself think / Maybe this could be her chance.” There’s a whole emotional universe in her words, and it’s all set to a danceable beat.

–Art Levy

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