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It's near impossible to talk about Kwabs without waxing lyrical about that voice. Our first real introduction to Kwabs came in the form of a Corinne Bailey Rae cover back in 2011 which, understandably, went viral. Even then, you could see the makings of a star. As he rattled out three EPs of original material it became clear that his voice was his secret weapon. Swelling, atmospheric production from the likes of SOHN was all well and good, but it was Kwabs' soulful, rich vocals that was keeping it all together.

With a prestigious musical education under his belt, he knows exactly when, where and how to use this powerful weapon to maximum effect. There's a power to it, a commanding presence that calms all the storms that swirl around it, while also showing signs of a vulnerability. It's a voice that can break hearts while also giving hope, soar high above the clouds while holding a whispered intimacy. Malleable and agile, it's this voice that earned him a spot on BBC's Sound Of list, a guest spot on the latest Disclosure record and has sent people into a frenzy, clamoring for more.

That's why Love + War has been so hotly anticipated. Some four years in the making, this is Kwabs' mission statement; the catapult by which he hopes - and deserves - to rocket into the public consciousness. In true Kwabs style, he isn't content with putting together 12 uniform tracks. Love + War is a genre-bending collection that flicks from atmospheric, synth-heavy pop bangers to soulful ballads, drawing from both his high-drama soul past and his radio/dancefloor-ready present.

These two sides of the Kwabs coin are best represented by two tracks we've come to know and love over the years. 'Wrong Or Right' is the continuation of a great singer/producer relationship between Kwabs and SOHN, similar to that between Sampha and SBTRKT. SOHN's skittering beats and humming bassline are the perfect companion to Kwabs' voice which flicks between soaring croon and a stunning, for-your-ears-only chorus. 'Walk', on the other hand, is a swaggering soul-pop chart smash, with its marching drums and big, flashy production. A shimmering, club-ready banger that seems to be in contradiction to the minimal, atmospheric production of early Kwabs, it still has that Kwabs DNA that makes it endlessly addictive.

Both sides are luckily well serviced across Love + War. The almost-gothic 'Look Over Your Shoulder' that hums with tension is yet another smash collaboration between Kwabs and SOHN, who seem so in sync with one another that it's difficult to see them ever putting a foot wrong. Stand-out 'Forgiven', ominous and anthemic, is the closest we get to the apocalyptic maelstrom of the utterly superb 'Something Right', with Kwabs in perfect control of his vocals as emotional chaos swirls threatens to collapse in on itself until he puts those pipes to good use during the soaring, bittersweet chorus.

Title track 'Love + War' sits at a nice balance between the two sides of the coin, a track that bubbles with dark emotion while shining with addictive piano lines and immensely danceable beats. 'My Own', meanwhile, jumps through almost every single iteration of Kwabs, coming out the other side sounding like a late '90s R&B classic in the style of Christina Aguilera or Destiny's Child.

The problem is, though, that a lot of it feels too safe, especially when we've seen just what he is capable of unleashing. It's a great album overall but it's one that never quite reaches amazing. This problem lies particularly with the final third of the album, which is full of tracks that go full cookie-cutter boyband-pop, lifted only by 'Wrong or Right' and the D'Angelo-esque soulful closer 'Cheating On Me'. But even with tracks like 'Cheating On Me', it feels like Kwabs is holding back from unleashing those truly powerful, knock-you-for-six tracks that he started out with.

Of course, this could be a conscious decision; an attempt to worm his way into the hearts of the masses before letting loose when everyone's comfortable, perhaps even on the guidance of some other hand. But we know that you can still do that and still break from the norm. Just look at FKA Twigs. Though LP1 was markedly less out-there than her EPs, it was still a lot different to everything else and both the critics and mainstream lapped it up. Even 'In Time', perhaps the weirdest track from the already weird M3LL15X, is on constant rotation on Radio 1.

There's no denying the talent that Kwabs possesses. Pretty much everything he touches turns to gold. With Love + War, we see a star ready to make that final push that he's been so deserving of for so long. But a strong, sophisticated start filled with pop bangers and an emotionally dense middle that harks back to the Kwabs that captured our hearts is let down by a frankly tame end. We know that, at his best, Kwabs is the kind of artist that is unstoppable; throwing emotional gut-punches and dancefloor-ready beats left, right and centre. And so we know that he has so much more in him than what Love + War, particularly that last quarter, shows us.

Love + War is a flawed yet no less exciting debut from a talent who deserves every success in the world. It's one of those weird albums that I like a lot but I know can be better to the point where I want to scrap the rating altogether. I just hope that, going forwards, Kwabs doesn't hold himself back and gives everything that we know he has. Either way, with a voice like that, Kwabs is almost certainly headed for the big leagues and you'll be doing yourself a real disservice if you don't follow this star as he continues to grow and grow.

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