REVIEW: Dave-We’re All Alone In This Together (2021)
Written by Dylan Patel-Roberts
Dave’s ‘We’re All Alone In This Together’ is a cinematic, visceral and above all pertinent second album.
With a title inspired by the words of Hans Zimmer on facetime, you can see where some of the inspiration for Dave’s storytelling sophomore album might’ve come from. A title that is bound to resonate further with some, given the isolated yet shared difficulties and experiences of the last year or so. Primary inspiration, however, comes across overwhelmingly as Dave’s lived experience; as a second-generation immigrant and that of his childhood in South London – the album is heavy with allusions and references to the Windrush scandal (among others) and the realities of asylum, immigration and conflict.
The first track on the album, ‘We’re All Alone’, opens with the sound of a film reel before introducing the listener to some classic Dave wordplay over a haunting, gentle beat. Although there are a few misses (pasta/pastor homophone..) most of the lines hit.
There is also a questionable (yet confessional) reference to a message Dave received from a suicidal fan, the use of which, whilst honest and no doubt well-intentioned, may not be to the taste of some listeners – particularly with its role seemingly to be to feed Dave’s grandiosity.
The album then moves through the clean drill banger ‘Verdansk’, with lyrics inspired by video games and gang life, before arriving at the highly anticipated but slightly underwhelming ‘Clash’ ft. Stormzy. Despite the presence on this track of two such lauded UK rap talents, it feels as if the lyrics, beat and final product do fall somewhat short – again, particularly considering what could’ve come from the pairing.
This takes the listener into the fourth song on the album, the multi-artist cut ‘In The Fire’ and another highlight. With verses from Fredo, Meekz, Ghetts and Giggs, the song runs for over seven minutes. The rappers take well-crafted shots at Boris Johnson, austerity and racism in the UK and unleash some brilliant metaphors (DAVE: ‘Błaszczykowski, I’m tryna score with the Polish. Pain in my eyes’) over rich gospel vocals from the Florida Mass Choir.
Unfortunately, the album then dips a little as Dave tries his hand at lighter R&B and afrobeat style music that just doesn’t really seem to fit, although I’m unsure whether it’s the other tracks or Dave and his persona that rubs against the change of tone.
The album closes well though with the fascinating and tragic ‘Both Sides Of A Smile’, featuring James Blake and ShaSimone. After this comes the colossal ‘Heart Attack’, which features a beat mimicking a fading heartbeat and begins with a sampled news report on knife crime and poverty. Dave then launches into nearly ten minutes of blistering, emotional rap, covering many of the themes introduced earlier in the album, before finishing the song with a devastating outro from his mother. Juliet Omoregie describes, through tears, the hardships she went through as a single parent and an immigrant looking for a home and trying to provide a life for her sons. The feature is truly poignant and no less than heartbreaking.