Head here to submit your own review of this album.

Obaro Ejimiwe's third album as Ghostpoet is not called Shedding Skin for nothing. Whereas his previous two records (2011's Mercury-nominated Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam, and 2013's brilliantly-titled Some Say I So I Say Light) rode an uneasy wave of sampled strings, tough beats and tuneful bleeps, this record sees him shrugging off these elements in favour of a full-band sound.

Lead track 'Off Peak Dreams' is perhaps the closest thing to the old Ghostpoet here, and is also the perfect introduction for the uninitiated. Latching on to a rolling beat, Ejimiwe beckons us back into his world, seeing "signs and wonders up in this caff." It works beautifully, with plaintive piano sections cutting across a restless chorus.

'Be Right Back, Moving House' is perhaps the first real departure from Ghostpoet's signature sound, and might prove difficult for those that believe that he is at his best when he menaces the mic: it's a warm, organic-sounding ballad whose gently building guitars could sit easily with any of Matt Berninger or Elbow's recent output. The live backing is given even more of the stage on the title track, with Ejimiwe simply intoning "simmer down" over sweetly melodic interlacing guitar lines. 'Better Not Butter' takes the theme a little too far; those ever-present guitars begin to wail and tip over uncomfortably into Muse territory. Ironically the band works best on this record when they replicate the skittering, jittery sounds of his earlier work.

Ghostpoet's lyrics have also undergone changes here - he has significantly scaled back the whip-smart wordplay, allusions and puns that so thrilled those Mercury judges on Peanut Butter Blues; this time the band is allowed to do a lot more of the talking. Many of the lyrics on Shedding Skin are more like plain-spoken monologues or prose poems, and this largely works, yet there is a noticeable shift towards phrase repetition. (An oddly Mark E. Smith-esque "ah" has also crept in to his delivery; unfortunately this affectation doesn't quite fit, but surely a dream collaboration for future records?)

As with any artistic reinvention, at times it seems like Shedding Skin is trying to solve a problem that wasn't there in the first place. There are a number of missteps, and the record as a whole suffers from a lack of pace in its second half. That's always a danger when your delivery is as languid as Ghost's; the problems arise when the backing band matches his relaxed vocal pace, occasionally resulting in a turgid sound that lacks drive and propulsion. Unfortunately closer 'Nothing in the Way' is the biggest culprit; what was surely intended to be a stirring finale comes over as too slow, syrupy and grandiose.

Having said all that, Ghostpoet is still very easy to love on this record, and the new sound largely sounds like a positive step forward. Shedding Skin is a bold move for an artist so associated with a different sonic cadence, and kudos to Ejimiwe for trying to artistically reposition himself. Ultimately though, I would have liked to have heard more of an evolution rather than a complete metamorphosis from him; 'Off Peak Dreams' is a tantalising glimpse of what could have been. He remains an enigmatic presence, capable of conjuring those aforementioned signs and wonders from the ordinary, and if nothing else, I am fascinated to hear what he comes up with next.

This is the place you'll find reviews from 405 Readers. To join in, head here.