British Grime and hip-hop artist Loyle Carner has made an astounding debut with his album Yesterday’s Gone. After listening to the album in full, I felt as though I had read snippets of a diary, with the compilation’s sensitive and emotional explorations of love, loss and friendship. Seemingly, Loyle Carner has found the perfect balance between heartfelt verses and melodic lyricism, which makes his debut so incredibly awe-inspiring. The album also oozes with personality, and highlights the artists’ character and own life experiences, bringing such a raw flair.
The album opens with the gorgeous gospel choir and steady beat of ‘The Isle Of Arran’. The explosive first track mirrors the energy and charisma that Loyle Carner brings to his music, and establishes one of the many tones the compilation dips into. The contrast of the gospel choir and Carner’s rough and raw lyrics enthuses the genre dichotomy that artists like Kanye West, Chance the Rapper and Childish Gambino have beautifully incorporated into their music; the fusion of gospel and the Grime and hip-hop sound has proven to be a gorgeously complimentary marriage.
To follow, the album seems to melt into the soothing riff and sensual percussion of ‘Mean it in the Morning’. The simple melody and modest verses have a vulnerable tone, as Loyle Carner explores everyday love and life. This track is one you can’t help but sway to, with its entrancing stripped back band and deeply personal words. ‘+44’ follows, utterly stripped back and has the tone of Loyle Carner’s impartial conscience speaking through his rhythmic voice. The 49 second interlude exposes the deep and relatable concept of girls and the need for love and affection in one’s lowest points. One of the things I adore most about Yesterday’s Gone is its genuine feel, and the personal relatability it brings to the Grime and hip-hop genre.
Whilst still maintaining the pure feel, the next few tracks take a step up musically and include a noticeable build up of instruments to accompany the lyrics. ‘Damselfly’ incorporates an intricate layering of guitar during, and especially as the song fades out; this creates a playful tone that reflects the title of the track ‘Damselfy’, being a metaphor for the beautiful exterior but predatory nature of some women, in Carner’s experience. ‘Ain’t nothing changed’ delves into bluesy jazz territory with its sultry saxophone and light percussion. This song explores the story of his dropping out of the Brit school to be the breadwinner of the family after his beloved Stepdad’s death, devoted to the ‘men of the house who were far too young’. The lyrics ponder over the worry that Carner’s acting career has been set back due to his decisions and how he’s ‘worried, what if they forget about me’. The song resolves with the powerful message that nothing has changed, and he still very serious in pursuing an acting career.
The album focuses on the theme of familial love, with ‘Swear’, a 34 second conversation with his mum. The vibrancy of their relationship, and the artist’s advocated love for his mum, gives Yesterday’s Gone a sense of vulnerability that separates it from other Grime Hip-Hop compilations circling the music scene. This is also shown with the fourteenth track, ‘Sun of Jean’, where the last 90 seconds allow his mum to recite a poem she wrote about her son. The relationship between Loyle Carner and his mum is so beautiful, and the fact she is his inspiration brings an incredibly humble and genuine tone to his musical persona.
My favourite track on the album is ‘Florence’ as it simply blew me away with the sweet, story-telling lyrics. The song completely strips things back with just a synth beat and piano accompaniment. Carner creates the close, loving relationship between him and an imaginary little sister, which further highlights his family-orientated attitude. The passion and detail in this track brings such a calming tone, making it the highlight of the album for me.
‘The Seamstress’ is the track that exposes Loyle Carner’s personal grievances more than any other. The title symbolises the turn to drink and love to sew up the holes caused by his dad walking out when he was young, and the death of his Stepdad. Again, a sense of vulnerability and honesty is brought to the album as he spills his deepest troubles into charismatic verses. ‘Stars & Shards’, ‘Mrs C’ and ‘No Worries’ beautifully take advantage of an entire band, by incorporating guitar, synth, piano and percussion to compliment the smooth lyrics.
Loyle Carner brushes his fingertips over many genres in his debut; blues, Soul, Hip-Hop, Grime and 90s Rock in ‘NO CD’. The rich bassline and reckless drums and electric guitar brings a blast from the past, and instils a sense of nostalgia with the line ‘got some old Jay-Zs, couple ODBs’. It mustn’t go unnoticed that Yesterday’s Gone is one of the most widespread and diverse debuts in recent years.
This being said, the entire message of the album is summed up in ‘Rebel 101’ with the line ‘get waved, eat bad food, party, as long as you’re having fun’. Tying in with the title Yesterday’s Gone, the morale of the compilation is to live each day to the fullest, do what you love and leave your bad experiences in the past. It is difficult to flaw Loyle Carner’s musical precision, but the applause must be dedicated to the album’s ability to become a 42 minute collection of Carner’s highest and lowest points. This is only the beginning for 22 year old London artist; it will be interesting to see how he follows this beautiful debut.