CD Review - Plan B: The Defamation of Strickland Banks

IT'S hardly Dylan going electric, but this second album by Londoner Ben Drew still represents a quite startling change of tack from a man who presented himself as a hard-edged, street tough rapper on his 2006 debut, Who Needs Actions When You Got Words.

Since then Drew has branched out into the more rarefied world of film, with appearances in Adulthood and the Michael Caine vehicle Harry Brown, and this appears to have activated the renaissance man within him.

He begins this loose concept album as a blue-eyed soul boy on Love Goes Down, and his performance and arrangements are creditably more Marvin Gaye than Lemar.

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The jerking mod rock of top ten hit Stay Too Long, the horn-stabbing soul of She Said and an array of hard-time anthems in the gospel, northern soul and, inevitably, rap styles are so varied as to ring slightly of contrivance.

Regardless, this is a record which clearly seeks to emulate the artist's heroes rather than turn a novelty buck.