Celeste – ‘Not Your Muse’: Album review

Celeste Epiphany Waite is an English singer-songwriter raised in Brighton and born in Culver City, California. Celeste began her career as a teenager providing vocals for dance musicians such as Avicii with his song ‘Touch Me’, and Tieks on the single ‘Sing That Song’. Nick Reilly from NME described Celeste as a “once-in-a-generational talent” who is “the finest British soul singer to emerge in years” and as Celeste progresses, it is becoming increasingly difficult to argue against that.

In search of progressing her musical career, Celeste moved from Saltdean to London with only £100 in her pocket. She was fired from her job as she would regularly skip work, prioritising her creative talent to make music. She told BBC “I’d rather call in sick and go the studio than have that money for the month.” A very good decision, indeed. In 2016 Celeste released her debut single ‘Daydreaming’, on the Lily Allen-owned record label Bank Holiday. Moving forward to 2017, she released her debut EP titled ‘The Milk and The Honey’, under the same label before completing a month-long residency at Laylow in Ladbroke Grove.

In late 2019 Celeste won a Brit award for Rising Star, a BBC Music Award, and was the number-one predicted breakthrough act of 2020 in an annual BBC poll of music critics for the sound of 2020. She really was destined for greatness. Celeste toured with her good mate Michael Kiwanuka, but it was her live shows at Omeara which really started to turn heads. Yasmine Dankwah, an author at Notion, was in attendance and said: “It appears that a talent such as Celeste only comes around rarely, what’s more, inviting about the enchantress is the humility that Celeste encompasses. It appears she hasn’t fully realised the sheer power and talent she has just yet, but when she enviably does it’ll be world domination for this star.”

But it wouldn’t be long before Celeste would realise her full capabilities and the true power of her voice. On the 29th of January, 2021, Celeste released her debut album ‘Not Your Muse’, and unsurprisingly, it shocked the world. The album hit the top of the UK album charts, and in turn, Celeste became the first female British solo artist to reach number one with her debut album five years later. Celeste said of the news: “It means so much to me and it means a lot for this music to get heard in this way. I can’t wait to make more and hopefully see you at all the shows. This has done the world of good for me and my music so thank you very, very, very, very much.”

Musically the album swings between moments that are capable of bringing a tear to anyone’s eyes in ‘Strange’ and ‘Beloved’, but Celeste has also shown she is equally competent of producing memorable and appealing pop songs in the form of ‘Tonight Tonight’ and ‘Stop This Flame’. However, it is Celeste’s unique voice that is the real star on ‘Not Your Muse’. Previously her powerhouse voice has been compared to the likes of Amy Winehouse, Aretha Franklin, and Billie Holiday. Whilst these are notable comparisons, and ones that any individual would be extremely proud of, Celeste is very much her own voice.

The diversification of Celeste’s voice and her ability to dictate listeners’ emotions is breathtaking. BBC Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac explains: “I have received countless emotional texts from listeners who have had to sit in their car and lose themselves to her song ‘Strange’ before carrying on with their evening.” Whilst her single ‘Love Is Back’, proves that she’s a fine jazz singer too. Celeste has that natural talent of a storyteller when she sings. You close your eyes for a minute and you’d be excused for thinking that you’ve landed in the Jazz and Soul capital of the world, New Orleans.

If Celeste was verging on the periphery of greatness prior to her album, the release has seen her skyrocket into a household name and the new face of British soul. Celeste explained: “I just want to thank everyone that made this possible and bought and streamed my album.” But it is us who should be thankful. Thankful that she shared such an excellent work of art in such difficult times. Thank you, Celeste.

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