So you’ve won a Mercury Music Prize and suddenly war threatens to break out. The anti-war movement need someone to connect with the kids and hey presto! – they’ve asked you, Ms Dynamite – to save the day! Suddenly you’re everywhere, popping up on the news and virtually every other political programme imaginable. Just as interest in you peaks you stick two fingers up to everyone to start a family. Job done!
It’s na�ve to expect this comeback album to not be untouched by the hands of those momentous events. But Judgement Days does push things too far. Within the first minute we’re bombarded with tirades against paedophile priests, unscrupulous pharmaceutical companies, war, gun crime, famine, etc… It’s just too much.
Don’t get me wrong. Artists who have something to say should be valued, but they should know that there’s a time and a place for everything. Judgement Days is overloaded with political messages and seems to forget that good songs make an album rather than heartfelt sentiment. What works well on Newsnight doesn’t please when you’ve shelled out 12 quid of your hard earned cash for a disc of it.
There was every potential for this album to be a modern What’s Going On, but the balance is wrong and this feels too derivative in places. Father and She Don’t Live Here Anymore are too reminiscent of Eminem‘s vitriolic rants against his immediate family. And Shavaar, dedicated to Dynamite’s son, is a carbon copy of Lauryn Hill‘s Zion.
There are a few good tracks here. Back Then captures this innocence of young love and the rose tinted spectacles we view it through. Gotta Let It Go is a good slice of pop soul. Also, When I Fall In Love is a great Jamaican style rendering of the classic Nat King Cole song. But it feels too little in comparison to the other weighty tracks.
The album is rounded off with a cringe-worthy cover of Bob Marley‘s Redemption Song – a classic that may have worked at Live8 but doesn’t here because we’ve had too much obvious sentiment beaten into us by then. It’s possible to cover this classic track with stunning results as Joe Strummer‘s heartbreaking version testifies but this feels more like some clich�d we-are-the-world style sing-along.
So with only a few songs untouched by political preaching the fifteen tracks here make you feel tired and battered. I’d much rather spend an hour with that chap with the megaphone on Oxford Street who harangues passers-by with his Godspeak.
So is she a winner or a sinner? It’s difficult to say but this album feels more like purgatory to me.