The first thing that strikes you about Collect Your Thoughts is just how taciturn and reserved it is, coming from a genre that’s often high in energy and even higher in bravado. That’s not a mistake. Long Eaton rapper and poet Alice Short showed last year in her aN EP iN a dAY EP just how perfectly she can tackle the melancholy and tedium of everyday life through deliberate instrumentation and calculated bars. In Collect Your Thoughts she has done so again, with the stripped-back aesthetic beautifully complementing the more serious message at the heart of the track.
Short’s first release of 2018, Collect Your Thoughts opens with the kind of rough production that piques your curiosity and commands you to listen for the remaining three and a half minutes of chilled out hip-hop. She’s described her music before as being “hip-hop made by an introvert that hangs out with a lot of singer-songwriters,” and to be honest that perfectly describes Collect Your Thoughts‘ sound. It’s not brash, nor aggressive, nor beefed-up on braggadocio; rather the secret to its understated power is the delicate lyricism at play, supported by production cordial enough to come and mow your lawn on a Sunday afternoon.
At the core of the single we find Short wrestling with the pain of not being able to convey her thoughts and feelings with those closest to her, either for fear of causing offence or simply because she can’t get her thoughts together in the first place. ‘You look away, I see the look of pain, like you’re waiting for the bubble to break’ she raps, chastising that feeling of letting thoughts building up and up and up before eventually they erupt in an outburst of emotion.
Behind the vocals, Short is supported by instrumentation so humble and unassuming it forces you to focus on the compelling lyricism at play. But there’s an ethereal quality to the backing track and production as well. Rolling, reverberated keys reflect the downward spiral you can often find yourself in when struggling to find the right words; the otherworldly echoes in the hook focus your attention on Short’s message: ‘Collect your thoughts, let the words out’.
Beyond her career as an obviously talented rapper, Alice Short is really just an honest and lovely person, and in Collect Your Thoughts that truly shows. Her bars are – unusually for hip-hop – empathetic and compassionate; the production is withdrawn and supportive rather than bombastic and overbearing. It is a stunning track of surprising insight and welcome humanity.
Alice Short Collect Your Thoughts is available to stream now on Spotify.
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