Celeste – Not Your Muse
After topping the BBC’s prestigious Sound of 2020 poll at the start of last year, Celeste was all set for big things. However, like everyone else, she has had to abandon her carefully laid plans.
Without a string of significant festival appearances and television exposure before release, her debut album Not Your Muse is coming out somewhat under the radar (at least as far as first records by artists hyped as the “next big thing” go). But, although she may not agree, in some ways the lowkey launch suits the record well, as Celeste is a far more interesting artist than one can describe with clichés about pop’s latest soulful superstar.
Last year wasn’t a total loss for the 26-year-old, as she became the first person to record an original song for John Lewis’s famous Christmas advert. A Little Love, appears on this Not Your Muse, and could gradually become a festive classic. It doesn’t spare the cheese, but wears it lightly enough to still be affecting. Similarly, Tonight Tonight and the anthemic Stop this Flame showcase her talents as a pop songwriter. One can imagine each becoming so ubiquitous, they will be soundtracking car commercials for years.
None of these, however, are really indicative of Celeste’s talent. Instead, it’s the less obviously catchy songs like A Kiss, and Beloved that truly strike a chord. If sped up slightly, the former could be a Bond theme, but instead it’s a breathtakingly breathy ballad. The latter has meditative echoes of Somewhere over the Rainbow but spirals into a dizzyingly weird yet entrancing conclusion.
If there’s a criticism of the album it’s that, having shown what she can do, Celeste too often reverts to the safety of slow, jazzy pop. Tracks that follow, like Love Is Back and The Promise, sound a little too incidental – the kind of music that can be enjoyed in the background with a nice meal in a trendy Soho eatery.
Nonetheless, it’s slightly churlish to complain, given the record’s standout songs. Be it catchy jazz-pop or minimalist exploration of Celeste’s mesmerising voice (as in closing track Some Goodbyes Come with Hellos), there is more than enough to make this debut live up to the the much-hyped new artist’s early billing.
Not Your Muse is released on 29th January 2021. For further information or to order the album visit Celeste’s website here.
Watch the video for the single A Little Love here: