Kojaque comes through with a debut album that takes a widescreen-view of life in Dublin, and seemingly, the desire to get out of it. While Bruce Springsteen had a guitar and the songs of Elvis, Roy Orbison and The Beatles coursing through his veins, Kojaque possesses a sharp tongue, a knack for storytelling and stacks of enveloping jazz, R&B and soul instrumentals at his fingertips.
Opener ‘Heartbreak’ sets up the loose concept for the album which finds a love triangle developing on New Year’s Eve, “You’re gonna miss the countdown” a passing voice says. While the concept is rolled out, Kojaque takes stock of his current situation atop an instrumental that morphs from swelling synths to a punk-fried industrial finale: “My profile’s growing / see, more money comes, more problems”. Snags of conversation are peppered among the tracks which illuminate the scenes he sets that often ripple with humour - “Why the hell did Dominos text you to say he loves you?” he asks.
The loss of his father, who died by suicide when the 26-year-old rapper was a child, looms heavy over these tracks. “Remember when I first learned God was the villain? / Well he took my Da and stopped picking up the phone,” he raps on ‘Shmelly’. “Check me out Dad ‘cos I’m doing it / no hands / you proud of me? / I hope you’re tuning in,” he pleads on ‘No Hands’, a touching document of his childhood.
Most impressive is Kojaque’s vocal performance that crawls from spoken word to rap to melodies in the blink of an eye. Combined with the storytelling tricks he employs across the record such as on ‘Curtains’ where he takes on the perspective of a girl he’s chatting up in a bar to take shots at his own flaws, he plays with the form to stunning effect. “Bet you say you’re shy but you love the attention,” the girl in question points out.
Dripping with humour, personality and cinematic storytelling, ‘Town’s Dead’ is all you could ever want in a debut.
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