KWABS releases his debut album Love + War on September 11, Quays News entertainment reporter Nathan Salt’s had a listen…

When I interviewed Kwabs back in April the album was “essentially finished” and so a June release date was duly announced. And then came the news no fan of Kwabs wanted to see appear on Twitter – his debut album ‘Love+War’ was delayed until September 11. I can, however, assure you one thing: this album is truly sensational and a must-have addition to any music collection.

He’s been in the headlines following his collaboration with Disclosure on a track called ‘Willing & Able’ which will feature on the duo’s new album ‘Caracel‘ when that is released in the near future. But Kwabs will be the sole headline after this album release with ‘Love+War’ as much about love – tracks such as ‘Make You Mine’- as it is about personal struggles such as his upbringing in foster care; highlighted in ‘Father Figure’.

He has been compared to Brit award winner, Emeli Sande, and also has a distinct gospel element to his unique sound, Kwabs has worked hard to create an artist identity. He’s worked hard to reach the stage of releasing a debut album – no talent shows, no hand-outs just complete hard work and dedication to succeed. That willpower is inspiring and despite a rather rapid rise to fame in the eyes of chart fanatics he remains humble and shy when off stage.

There are no gimmicks with Kwabs. His appeal lies in his soulfully seductive baritone vocals which shine through best on ‘Perfect Ruin’ and ‘Cheating on Me’; the latter really is vocal mastery through its sheer elegance and simplicity.  Kwabs told Quays News: “My voice needs space to breath and people can identify more with the sentiment of those songs.” The emotional variety which has blended ‘Cheating On Me’ is both sombre and lyrically powerful – many will share the sentiment which was his aim ultimately.

The album’s tempo is varied despite the singer’s preference to strip his tracks back to nothing more than his vocals. ‘Fight For Love’, ‘Love+War’ and the track that rose to prominence courtesy of the video game FIFA 15, ‘Walk’, offers fans a contemporary blend of ‘alternative pop’, the genre he best associates himself with.

The rawness that is associated with Kwabs remains ever-present despite the tempo increases on a number of tracks. ‘Forgiven’ is one of the strongest tracks on the 12-piece record as it demonstrates the power and emphasis on what Kwabs is singing about. “I don’t need to justify,’ he says with an almost haunting level of tranquility. Listeners can sense from track one that this is real, this was his life.

Given that demand outweighs supply in the music industry currently it would have been easy for the former Royal School Of Music student to rush the writing process in a bid to get it out as quickly as possible. But what does any artist gain from that? Genuine, heartwarming and at times heartbreaking, ‘Love+War’ has merged all the paints on the proverbial canvas from his extensive emotional palette.

Fans of the Ghanaian-born singer won’t have to wait long to see him tour this album with his UK tour arriving in the Manchester Academy on Sunday October 11. Kwabs is building up a profile after that mightily impressive support for Sam Smith back in 2014 and he is, on the basis of this album, destined for great things. Vocally one of the strongest in the market with any competition blown out of the water with ‘Love+War’, it was no surprise to see him receive the Independent’s ‘Album of the week’ recently. It may have been a long time coming but boy is this album worth the wait…

By: Nathan Salt

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