UK rapper Dave was one of the stars of 2019. His album PSYCHODRAMA was one of the best of the year, topping end-of-the-year lists, winning the Mercury Prize that year and landing him a best album and male artist at the 2020 BRIT Awards. He quickly became one of the best storytellers of our current music era, talking frankly and openly of mental health, suicide, poverty and domestic violence. His 11-minute track “Lesley” was a heart-wrenching tale of a woman he came to know through her sorrow and pain of relationships, physical abuse and eventually losing a child. You felt like you were there with them through the cab rides, train journeys and voicemails. Today, he attempts to follow up that album with his third album We’re All Along In This Together.
PSYCHODRAMA already beat the proverbial sophomore slump, but now he has the pressure to follow up one of the best albums in the past few years. The album comes with some big name features like Stormzy, WizKid and James Blake, who is a listed feature on “Both Sides Of A Smile,” in addition to playing piano on several other tracks as well like “In The Fire.”
One of the main themes of PSYCHODRAMA was mental health and he doesn’t eschew that on We’re All Along In This Together. The opening track “We’re All Alone” keeps that thread going when he raps “I got a message from a kid on Sunday mornin' / Said he don't know what to do and that he's thinkin' of killin' himself / Me and him got more in common than he thinks / But I tell him to see a shrink so I can go on and live with myself.” He also gives a shout out to Suits’ power lawyer Harvey Spector, which also had the character Rachel Zane, played by now British royal Megan Markle.
The album continues to delve into heavy issues like violence, poverty and immigration. “Three Rivers” examines the treatment of the Windrush generation who immigrated to the UK decades ago and some are now being ejected from the country because of discriminatory policies. He also looks at this in a broader context of the cruelty of closed boarders to those in need, especially children. Like PSYCHODRAMA there is a lengthy epic of a track, “Heart Attack” that is a personal and reflective view on the violence of London, where people can act without care for each other, and just as importantly, their parents who gave up their dreams to raise their children.
We’re All Along In This Together also tries to figure the puzzle of love and relationships on tracks like “Both Sides Of A Smile” with the assist from James Blake. However, there is still time for fun and showing off with songs like “Clash” alongside Stormzy and “System” with WizKid.
Dave expands his world with We’re All Along In This Together examining the world around him with a fresh perspective on migration, violence love and gratitude to ones family. It isn’t the same concept album of PSYCHODRAMA, but it still hits as hard and feels as relevant as his previous work. Following up one of the best albums of 2019 was always going to be an impossible task, but he has done that with a plum here. Pick up your copy of We’re All Along In This Together now from one of the best storytellers in music today.