Plan B: Heaven Before All Hell Breaks Loose review – Ben Drew takes it down a gear

Fri, May 4, 2018, 05:00


Heaven before all Hell Breaks Loose

Plan B


R&B / Soul

Six years ago it seemed as if Ben Drew had bitten off more than he could chew. Hip-hop geezer, soul singer, actor, screenwriter, director – it was as if Renaissance Man’s upbeat nature had been overtaken by Drew’s hyperactivity.

Judging by this album, however, it looks as if Drew has dropped down a gear or two: Heaven Before all Hell Breaks Loose replaces signature gritty hip-hop with stylistic swerves into pop/dance territory.

If there is a lack of the ferocity that acted as an electric charge to earlier material, the change suits his voice, which has mellowed (somewhat) into a very useful instrument of impassioned soul.

This said, you’d have to wonder why Drew appears to have lined up alongside other contemporary UK soul singers such as Sam Smith and Rag’n’Bone Man. By comparison, he is far more adventurous in subject matter and delivery.

Strong soul tracks such as Heartbeat, Grateful and Guess Again are vigorous and vindictive, a throwback to the spiky clamour of 2012’s Ill Manors OST.

Most of the remainder highlight the fact that Drew works best when the pedal is to the metal.