Rappers seem to be culturally linked with smugness and arrogance. But Loyle Carner leaves behind this tough man stereotype in Yesterday’s Gone, his debut album. Throughout this album the 15 tracks deal with issues from death, love, lust, family and friendship and the listener gets a poignant picture of the artist’s autobiography and coming of age.
The album opens with a gospel choir which sets the beginning of The Isle of Aran a deeply confessional track in which the artist admits his lack of male role models. This excusing of feelings carries over the rest of the album: tracks such as Florence in which he sings about the sister he never had, and Sun of Jean whose co-writers are “Mum and Dad”, testify to the emotional depth of the album.
A proud mama’s boy, Carner’s love from his mum, Jean Coyle-Larner, is a recurring theme of his first album. In “Swear” we are a silent witness to a exchange between both, in which the rapper is called a “shmoo” by his mum, whilst “Sun of Jean” ends with a spoken word poem by his mum reminiscing about Carner’s childhood as a hyperactive sweet young boy.
Growing up in South London undoubtedly Ben Coyle-Larner, the artist’s real name, has been influenced by Grime. In a interview to NME he claimed that “it [grime] gave me a voice”. However the sentimentalist nature of his debut album couldn’t contrast more with grime’s aggressive tone.
From South London also comes the singer/ producer Tom Misch who collaborates with Carner on Damselfly, a track about love which has Misch’s characteristic mellow beats as a backdrop.
Carner’s jazz and R&B influence is clear in Ain’t Nothing Change, a song about being forced to grow up fast after his stepfather's death and The Seamstress, in which he deals with alcohol abuse and sadness. But not all is about sorrow and the fierceness of both the beats and lyrics from 'No CD' and 'Stars and Shards' attest to that. In the last track Carner proves himself a true story teller, showing us how diverse and flexible his style is.
A gifted artist, Carner leaves the listener with a feeling that they have just made a new friend and i cannot contain my excitement for his next work, or for his gig on the 12th of February at Motion.
Link to the NME interview: http://www.nme.com/blogs/nme-radar/loyle-carner-interviewed-grime-changed-my-life-17984
Review: Sofia Soares