<p>Celeste’s phrasing and delivery recalls Billie Holiday</p>

While many artists who are referred to as “one to watch” are brought onto the world stage before one can speak of a “debut album”, Celeste’s career has developed at a noticeably calm pace. It suits her. The 26-year-old’s music – delicate jazz and soul in his thirties and forties – is the type to enjoy without sacrificing a streaming algorithm.

Celeste – born in LA, raised in Essex and Brighton – deserves valid comparisons to Billie Holiday, but the similarities go well beyond the velvety nature of her voice. It is in their phrasing how their sluggish delivery allows each vowel to swell to the point where it almost bursts. Take A Kiss, the song at the heart of their brilliant debut album, Not Your Muse. Aided by muted guitar collecting, it’s a track that shows everything Celeste’s voice is capable of. “Tonight Tonight” now has a driving rhythm reminiscent of Michael Kiwanuka’s great single “You Ain’t the Problem” from 2019. “Love is Back” with its silky chorus and intricate orchestral arrangements is just as impressive as Amy Winehouse on “You Know I’m No Good”.

Like the great artists who came before her, Celeste seems compelled to question society’s expectations of what constitutes her self-esteem. Her hit single “Stop This Flame” has been compared to Florence and the Machine, but is closer to Nina Simone’s purposely determined and uplifting sound. And in Celeste’s song, as Simone often did, her voice complements the powerful contrapuntal rhythms of the piano. Not Your Muse is an album that will keep you drawn back again and again, both for its technical brilliance and for its other qualities.

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In a recent Guardian interview, Goat Girl lead singer and guitarist Lottie Pendlebury said the group felt like a “different band” than they did on their self-titled DIY debut album from 2018. They sound that way too. While the anti-authority stance on On All Fours is still present and correct, the songs recorded by their label boss and producer Dan Carey in South London prove that they have evolved. “Sad Cowboy” manages to transition from electronics and trance to spaghetti western twangs, “Anxiety Feels” indulges in a hazy soul, while the epic scope of “The Crack” has a lot to do with its rock guitar fuzz.

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In the same interview, the band noted that all-male bands like Fat White Family, despite the equally controversial nature of their own lyrics, are gaining more recognition in the industry. “It’s not even recognized as being equally intense,” said bassist Holly Mullineaux. On All Fours is undoubtedly intense listening with its glowing harmonies and pendlebury’s soft murmuring. They also lend themselves well to a sharp analogy: “Bite On You” refers to a real-world experience with scabies, but it quickly becomes a metaphor for capitalist greed.

On All Fours has a nervousness that fits well with the public mood and screams discontent despite the often sweet-sounding nature of Pendlebury’s voice. Below the levels of lyric meaning is a simpler message aimed at those in charge: “Sort it out,” they seem to be saying. “Or but.”