A debut that whips up a bounty of introspective and authentic feeling
Harrison Smith
16:35 30th January 2021

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The best way to summarise Not Your Muse, the debut album by British singer-songwriter Celeste, would perhaps be ‘astutely mellow’. That isn’t to say that there is a substantially downbeat or melancholic nature to the record; more so that her tender, whisper-like voice and poignant lyrical outlook whips up a bounty of introspective and authentic feeling, unlocking a chest of truly enlightened and refreshing yet casual day-to-day observations. 

Opening with ‘Ideal Woman’, Celeste rattles off an array of self assured statements "I like to think it’s because I look too good", which establishes a tenacious confidence and implements her affable demeanor. On ‘Beloved’, partnering the oft heard attributes of R&B and a rich cinematic arrangement of strings, we are led on a slow burning journey through personal longing and the wild idiosyncrasies of love "I heard lightning don't strike twice / Could you be the man of my dreams?" Celeste herself has stated that the track was inspired by the crooners of the 1950s and the woozy sounds reflected in the feeling of post air-travel sleepiness. 

The now familiar (thanks to the Premier League) ‘Stop This Flame’ is the liveliest track on the album and highlights the impressive vocal range available to Celeste when needed. ‘Tonight Tonight’, a catchy acoustic-funk number speaks of the anticipation and delightful nerves one experiences when awaiting a lover to come home, "Looking for your shadow in the light beneath the door".

On ‘Love Is Back’, Celeste channels her inner Amy Winehouse, adopting the honest lyricism that the aforementioned became so notable for: "I'm startin' to realise that all the boys that I find / are all trouble". Whilst comparisons with Winehouse, Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith are certainly going to be made, Celeste has enough moxy and enchantment to stand out. 

Celeste’s own brand of soul sees her artfully taking the most engaging parts of mainstream chart pop and mixing it up with a calculated portion of traditional jazz and beat-poetry-like delivery. At times, one does long for further variation in the composition, though this could be down to debut album cautions and not taking too many risks early on in your career. 

What’s clear is that Celeste has all the makings of something unique: a British soul artist, certainly, but one with a razor sharp edge and a theremin like falsetto, capable of quite remarkable things.

Not Your Muse is out now. 

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Photo: Press