I can distinctly remember my first experience of Loyle Carner, buying a ticket on a friend’s recommendation to catch him late 2015 at Leeds’s very own Headrow House. Still relatively unknown at this point, his endearing wordplay and effortless swagger turned me instantly into a fan. Since then, a word of mouth fuelled rise has propelled him to the fringes of mainstream success, and his debut album, Yesterday’s Gone, looks set to be the catalyst to push him over the edge.
The latest single released prior to the album, ‘The Isle of Arran’ opens up proceedings, with candid observations such as “I wondered why my dad didn’t want me, my ex didn’t need me” setting the tone for Loyle’s regular self-inspection. The fresh take on an old school sample which provides the beat is the handiwork of Rebel Kleff- producer and best friend of Carner -who himself picks up the mic for ‘No Worries’ and ‘No CD’, offering a sharp wit which compliments Loyle’s thoughtful tones.
Carner’s work is deeply personal, depicting his struggle with ADHD, as well as dealing with the death of his step-father. It is family which binds this album, exquisitely expressed in ‘Florence’, a touching track concerning his desire for a little sister, imagining “she could be my freckle-faced fidgeter, me but miniature”.
Whilst the saxophone hook and chorus of ‘Aint Nothing Changed’ have been rolling round my head for the last year, the pick of the album is ‘Sun of Jean’, which perfectly sums up Carner’s ethos- “got no love in my heart, except for my mother and a couple die hards”. This track is closed by his mum’s own poem, expressing her continuing love for her “scribble of a boy”.
Refreshingly honest, honestly brilliant.