Loyle Carner’s debut 2017 album Yesterday’s Gone established himself, at least for me, as one of the leading voices of British hip-hop, with a confessional, raw and emotive tone that garnered him a Mercury Nomination and a passionate fanbase. He went from strength to strength with his releases – his single “Ottolenghi,” featuring Jordan Rakei being an example of that. He released his sophomore album Not Waving, But Drowning last week, already to critical acclaim, and it’s easy to see why.
It’s a terrific, soulful project featuring stories of his childhood, anecdotes from his mother and deep, personal conversations about mental health. The album starts with “Dear Jean,” a deep, personal letter to his mother about him finding love, and ends with “Dear Ben,” which features his mum talking about a young Loyle Carner growing up, learning about life and giving so much love and wisdom through his words and actions. Her poem was stunning, and concluded the album beautifully, wrapping every them perfectly. Tracks like “Angel,” featuring Tom Misch and “Still” feature moody, key and guitar-driven melodies that give Loyle the perfect soundscape to rhyme about his imperfections and mental health, as well as his dyslexia. Being lost and having depression made him stronger and the poetic aura in his raps make for a terrific listening experience.
From start to finish, this album is stunning in it’s lyrical and musical depth, and to me makes Loyle Carner stand out as one of the best artists at this moment in time. Album of the year contender? I think so!
Listen to Loyle Carner’s sublime new album Not Waving, But Drowning below via Spotify, and don’t forget to support!