Following on from his Mercury Prize nominated debut, the ever eloquent Loyle Carner has returned with his sophomore album, and it might just be up there with his first.
‘Not Waving, But Drowning’ is as personal as ever for UK’s Benjamin Coyle-Larner. Focusing on his family, relationships and life after his coming of age, Loyle Carner has gifted the listener with a thought provoking record that’s packed with passion.
Perhaps a shining moment of the album for myself is the album opener and albums end, Dear Jean and Dear Loyle. The first of which is a poem from Loyle to his mother Jean while the latter is from Jean to Loyle. Both are emotional tracks from total different perspectives. Loyle goes through stages of finding love and moving away from his mother. Jean shares her thoughts on her poem, stating that she hasn’t lost a son, but gained a daughter. The passion these two share is about as endearing as it gets, proving once again that Loyle Carner might just be the nicest man in music.
You can’t help but route for him, his personality shines through in his music leaving the listener grasping on his every word. That can only be helped by Loyle’s mindfulness; for instance the title track. It’s not a song, but an excerpt from Stevie Smith, the writer of the poem, Not Waving, But Drowning. The poem revolves around themes of depression and loneliness, something Loyle raps about throughout the project as well.
Aside from likability and intelligence, Loyle shows off some bars on this record. His rapping might go unnoticed because of all of his other unique styles, but this man can rap with the best of them, maybe people don’t realise it because it’s not over a trap beat, but free flowing instrumentals.
Features from the likes of Sampha and Jorja Smith makes this project more star studded than Loyle’s last. It’s great to see that progression, furthermore every feature strikes the right chord. They add to album without taking the shine away from Carner himself. All in all Loyle has created one of the easiest listens of the year.
A Loyle Carner record is just that, a Loyle Carner record; it’s incomparable to other artists and it’s that distinctive sound that always makes his projects a joy. Comparisons can always be made between a sophomore album and a debut album, and for me the debut SLIGHTLY out shines the sophomore. That being said, this is still one of my favourite records of the year and a quality way for Carner to expand his discography so early in what should be a fruitful career.