If you’ve never listened to Loyle Carner, prepare to fall in love. With his debut album Yesterday’s Gone, Carner offers an irresistible invitation into his deepest thoughts, evoking endless introspection and reflection with charming lyricism and candid vulnerability. Also, his flow is unreal.
The album opens with ‘The Isle of Arran’, in which Carner openly expresses his feelings towards the absence of his biological father and celebrates the young fathers who do stick around. Flowing seamlessly over a tasty 60s gospel sample, this open vulnerability weaves through the entire album with a charming realness. Speaking to DIY Magazine, Carner admitted “I used to write songs and think, ‘I can’t use this,’ because it was too open.” But now, he embraces honesty in an effort to break down the stigma against young men being vulnerable with their feelings, fighting “the weird social expectations of being a young man and having to say everything’s OK when it’s not OK.” ‘The Isle of Arran’ opens the album with a laid-back yet soulful tone that flows eloquently into the light and shade of ‘Mean It in The Morning’.
Light and shade work smoothly together throughout the whole album. Breezy track ‘Ain’t Nothing’s Changed’ saunters by with carefree jazz melodies that are peppered with Carner’s sincere vulnerability, sharp wit and raw honesty, establishing the tone of the album perfectly. Plus the sax hooks are damn delicious. With it’s synthesis of laid-back hip-hop, jazz chords, gospel samples and subtle grime influences, Yesterday’s Gone transcends style and genre and plays testimony to Carner’s originality and authenticity.
My personal standout on the album is ‘Florence’, even though it manages to make me cry every time I listen to it. It’s an exquisitely charming tribute to the little sister Carner’s always wanted, imagining “she could be my freckle-faced fidgeter, me but miniature” and making her pancakes in the morning. It’s family that binds the album together. A wonderfully touching and heartwarming feature on ‘Sun of Jean’ is Carner’s mum reciting a poem she wrote, expressing her unconditional love and admiration for her “scribble of a boy”. She’s clearly immensely proud, and so she bloody should be.
Deeply personal and authentic, this refreshing debut delivers beautifully raw honesty that is hard to find anywhere else.
Words by Meg Firth x