Musical Minimalism from a Maturing Artist: A Review of Dave’s We’re All Alone In This Together

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Dave's second album proves why he is one of the most exciting new appearances in the UK grime scene from recent years.

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At merely 23 years of age, Dave has made a huge name for himself within the UK hip-hop scene and is one of the rare cases of British rap artists who have managed to break through to American audiences with some success, largely thanks to his show-stopping live performance at the BRITs in 2020 of his song ‘Black’.

We’re All Alone in This Together is his second album, a follow-up to the critically acclaimed hit album Psychodrama which marked the emergence of a real conscious talent to rival the likes of Little Simz and Kae Tempest in their artful approaches to hip-hop that are more outside of the box than most. Psychodrama was an ambitious record, no doubt about it (especially considering that Dave was 20 when it released), but this second album shows him maturing as an artist and solidifying his focuses. The direction may not be so new, but Dave has a style that at least makes him stand apart.

One reason that Dave stands out is his clear attention put towards breaking conventions. We’re All Alone has three tracks that run over seven minutes in length, going against the typical rap tradition of two to four minute tracks along with a couple of interludes, usually. The features from artists like James Blake and Snoh Aalegra also place this apart, even if the grime artist appearances may roll it back the other way somewhat.

Dave has achieved a certain type of musical minimalism here; this may sound negative but it works beautifully in this case, as it allows the lyricism to come through and become the true focus. It shows a lot of promise that Dave is able to prove himself lyrically to such an extent that the beats are allowed to sink into the background much more than most hip-hop, especially British hip-hop, and he continues to go in the same direction. His BRITs performance made a strong point by having Dave simply rap to piano backing (which he also played), and it shows even more promise that this album is so musically versatile hopping from more energetic songs like ‘In the Fire’ to the slower moving tracks such as my personal favourite on the album, ‘Twenty to One’.

Dave’s second album proves again why he has to be one of the most exciting new appearances in not only UK hip-hop, but hip-hop overall with this soulful sophomore record that sees him expand brilliantly on many of the elements that made his debut record so successful. It’s genuinely thrilling to watch him grow as an artist, and it’s even better knowing that he still has so far to go.

We’re All Alone In This Together is out now via Neighbourhood Recordings. Listen below:

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First year film student, writer (on film) and poet. I recently published my first poetry collection, Portrait of a City on Fire!

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