Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Afternoon Show host Kevin Cole, is “Spinnin’” by Speech Debelle from the 2009 album Speech Therapy on Big Dada.
Much is being made of the few details Speech Debelle has shared about her life -- middle class upbringing, dad left when she was six, left home after fight with mom when she was 19, crashed on friends’ couches and in homeless hostels for a while before moving back home -- the 26 year-old Corynne Elliot will be the first to admit that her life wasn’t that hard.
Still, her life experiences build a common theme of hope amid misunderstanding or adversity on Speech Therapy, this year’s winner of the 2009 Mercury Prize for Album of the Year. And the scrutiny is not undeserved: the panel chose Speech Therapy, which sold only 300,000 copies before the win, over those of higher selling artists like Kasabian, Bat for Lashes, and Florence and the Machine.
Certainly, the album’s fresh blend of hip-hop and pop is enough to turn heads. A Londoner by birth, Speech Debelle pulls from her Jamaican roots as she blends light strains of reggae throughout her songs, while her south London accent easily draws comparisons to other Brit contemporaries like Lily Allen and Jamie T. Today’s Song of the Day, “Spinnin’,” is a particularly good example of Speech Debelle’s ability to turn life’s lemons into lemonade, as they say, by complementing the song’s message with a bouncy beat, plinking piano keys, lilting strings, and chorus of voices in the chorus, making the song instantly likable and immediately uplifting. If you’re like most people, you had yet to hear of Speech Debelle before her Mercury Prize win (unless you listen to KEXP, of course), but not all that’s gonna change.
Currently, Speech Debelle’s only live dates are in the U.K., but look for her in the U.S. during CMJ this October. Check her MySpace page and website for updates. For now, here’s another sample from her award-winning album: