Speech Debelle returns after four years with ‘The Work’ – listen

The Mercury Prize winner has dabbled in art and cooking since 2012 release 'Freedom Of Speech'

Speech Debelle – who won the Mercury Music Prize as rank outsider in 2009, for debut album ‘Speech Therapy’ – has returned with her first new music in four years.

Debelle has been on a hiatus from music, during which she curated ‘The Strength and Vulnerability Bunker’, an exhibition of art produced by prisoners at the London South Bank Centre in 2013, and appeared on Celebrity Masterchef. Debelle’s Masterchef experience took her to the semi-finals, and saw her showcase a wildly experimental style of cooking.

The new single ‘The Work’ is launched ahead of Debelle’s third album, which will be entitled ‘Tantil Before I Breathe’, which is expected in the coming months.


The track addresses “having some sort of awakening in whatever form that may come in; whether it’s about who you’re around, what you want to change in your life, or having some sort of a breakdown,” Speech explained. “Which I had – which was the unravelling.”

“I realised I had to be broken for the light to come in,” she said, “and that process is the blossoming to me, a form of expansion. This song is about waking up and being grateful for the opportunity to f**k some more things up, cry and then laugh.”

Listen to ‘The Work’ via YouTube, below:

NME described 2012 release ‘Freedom of Speech’ by saying:

“At its best, such as on ‘Elephant’ and ‘Live For The Message’, Speech’s flow teeters on the right side of sincerity, the music shadowing it with a subtle brooding. There are moments when her A-Level Debating Club earnestness gets the better of her, but there’s still three quarters of a great album here.”


After winning her Mercury Music Prize, Debelle “sacked” her record label as she felt they hadn’t fully capitalised on the hype the win generated. At the time, she told BBC 6 Music “The Mercury Prize was on a Tuesday, and the Friday there were no more physical albums in the shops. So on the Mercury weekend, which would have been my biggest-selling weekend, people couldn’t get it.”

She added: “I wasn’t disappointed that it didn’t sell well, I was disappointed in the people I was working with.”

They later reunited, however to release Debelle’s sophomore record.