Earlier this summer I had the pleasure of discovering Loyle Carner (a name perhaps most familiar from his appearance on Rejjie Snow’s ‘1992’). I pretty much became immediately enamoured with the artist after catching him live in London back in July, taken in by his affable, laid-back flow and the great music from Rebel Kleff. This afternoon saw Loyle Carner’s new EP drop and – much in the same easy way that he seemed to win over that crowd back in July – ‘A Little Late’ seems effortlessly special.
“Everybody says I’m fucking sad / of course I’m fucking sad, I miss my fucking dad”, is his melancholy, conversational refrain at the end of lullaby opening track ‘BFG’, and there’s something so perfectly understated about his delivery: not angry, necessarily, but rather he is slowly, reluctantly dejected and accepting, with emotion seeping subtly through the restraint and bravado. Then there’s the gently romantic ebb and flow of ‘October’ with sweet vocal interludes from Kiko Bun (“yes, I’ve got you on my mind, girl”) and a gorgeously fluid guitar melody all topped with Carner’s smooth, deftly-observed bars, “I think I said too much / From love to lust in a heartbeat / The riddle combusts”.
‘Pieces’ is slickly produced with some sultry saxophone weaving through the polished beats – in fact, the entire EP boasts the stellar production of aforementioned Rebel Kleff, with a distinct style that certainly nods to J Dilla. Kleff also features as a rapper on ‘The Money’ which has a euphoric swing with its zig-zagging organ and exasperated but kind of amusing refrain of: “damn, I need to make some money for my fam”, which descends into a nicely candid little a capella moment at the end.
The EP finishes with two older tracks – the glimmering, lithe, summery ‘Sea Shells’ and, finally, the languid reflections of woozy ‘Cantona’ which – if memory serves correctly from that July gig – is also about his relationship with his father. Again, it’s so beautifully understated but incredibly evocative in its lyricism and delivery: “We’d sit for hours: sun, thunderstorm or showers / In that same living room, watching the bloom turn to flowers”. There’s a sense of monotony in the way he repeats that particular memory in his chorus between the suffocating rush of the stream-of-consciousness verses, forcefully boxing the listener into that living room until his decision to leave – “I dream of sneaking through into freedom” – makes sense. But when he ultimately returns to the chorus, there’s a palpable tinge of lament and nostalgia now he looks back. Needless to say, this is powerful music (…which I am almost certainly lyrically analysing far more than is necessary).
I have not written on here in over a month, but today Loyle Carner reminded me why I love gushing about music so much in the first place. ‘A Little Late’ is a beautifully serene and articulate EP and this guy is very, very exciting. Listen: