U.K. spoken-word artist, rapper, poet, novelist and playwright Kate Tempest came into Paste’s New York City studio to perform songs from her third studio album The Book of Traps and Lessons, out now via American Recordings/Republic Records. Her two previous albums—2014’s Everybody Down and 2016’s Let Them Eat Chaos—were both nominated for the highly-coveted Mercury Prize.
In this session, Tempest performed three songs: “Three Sided Coin,” “Firesmoke” and “People’s Faces.” Her vocal delivery is sometimes fiery, sometimes matter-of-fact, but always intentional and with the goal of illustrating the corresponding emotion her gritty poetry dredges up. Backed by various keyboards and electronic percussion, her vignettes are mercurial—sometimes her thoughts quickly evaporate into the next line, and other times, they’re stretched into narratives, lingering like a burning memory.
Tempest introduced her song “Firesmoke” as “probably my favorite song to perform.”
“It’s a very beautiful love song,” Tempest says. “And it’s so nice because it just makes me think of my partner every single time I do it, which gives me great comfort because sometimes these things can be kind of terrifying.”
Tempest also commented about the album’s deliberate flow.
“It was written as a suite,” Tempest says. “It has an identity as a whole piece. We recorded it that way. All of the songs we memorized and played them in one take…It’s important to say that these songs belong with their siblings in this bigger family.”
Watch Tempest’s full session in the Paste Studio below. You can stream or purchase The Book of Traps and Lessons here.