October 11, 2023
Skinny Pelembe
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“I never considered myself a singer before now,” says Skinny Pelembe. Viewing his 2019debutDreaming Is Dead Nowfrom a comfortable distance, the Iggy Pop and Grace Jones-approved one-man band recognises its enigmatically murky production as a sort of auditory “squid ink”, aiming to disguise a lack of vocal confidence and to obscure the man behind the music.

On the sure-footed follow-up, he makes no such concessions.Visceral yet inherently soulful, Hardly The Same Snake is the sound of the Johannesburg-born, Doncaster-raised artist finally finding his voice–both literally and figuratively. In practical terms, that involved finding the courage to foreground his gravelly baritone in these gloriously genre-agnostic productions. But it also meant branching out beyond the safety net of his former label–Gilles’ Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings–to figure out the artist he truly wanted to be. As Skinny puts it today, in his soft South Yorkshire drawl, “This album is what I would have created first time round had I rated my own voice.

If this superb second album proves anything, it’s that it doesn’t matter how much Skinny errs on the side of self-deprecation–he remains one of the UK’s most fearlessly original voices.