Loyle Carner’s Yesterday’s Gone: In Retrospect

Loyle Carner, a name which once pronounced won’t again be mistaken since the release of his debut album, Yesterday’s Gone.

An album which has sent him meandering down the streams of cult hip-hop undertones, through to the river mouth of mainstream hip-hop and grime culture, a culture which is somewhat disorientating through indistinguishable grime crunches and conventional lyrical stutters, prominent in the fall of this decade.

The gentle, melancholic whisper into the ear of today’s consumer could far too easily have fallen on deaf ears. Yesterday’s Gone, with its honourable lack of grandiose slobber and excessively immoderate content, creates a debut album which produces some of the most intrusive and emotionally honest tracks both lyrically and contextually, barely visions a comparison within these parameters to other working artists of his age.

From the instant the needle falls on this record, the enchanting gospel introduction on The Isle of Arran, from the 1969 S.C.I Youth Choirs The Lord Will Make A Way intensifies the plateau for Loyle to deliver a palette of personified poetic drama. The closing lines, emotionally charged and damagingly close to home for Loyle, shows his ability to craft sentiment deep into the threads of this album. Where Loyle’s depth of honesty provokes thought within his lyrics, an outstanding demonstration of melodic chord progressions on the track Damselfly, featuring Tom Misch, reaffirm that excessive production isn’t necessary here.

The restraint of instrumental intrusion within the majority of this album allows a field for Loyle to truly express emotion, on the track Florence, Loyle’s vocal quiver can almost be distinguished atop the soft hum of the keys. Not many of the modern day musical militia could walk away unscathed after distributing the lyrics within this piece. Sensitive and understated, it bears a similar contextual resemblance to J. Cole’s Foldin Clothes, an artist who Loyle has regarded as an important musical inspiration.

Though the album has proved that sensitivity can succeed excess within an excessive pop culture, certain moments are jarring to its flow. The track Mrs C delivers similar tonal content, but doesn’t deliver a distinguished punch that features on other tracks. That being said, Loyle has come closer than any other recent artist with this 15 track EP to producing a fully comprehensive display of sensitivity, clarity and emotional zeal, which deservedly rewarded him with a nomination for 2017’s Mercury Prize.

A spearhead skimming across the seashore of the lyrically aware scene of tomorrows hip-hop/soul scene, Loyle, I eagerly await the path which you meander down next, your expressive emotion has most certainly been listened to, again and again.

Liam Briggs

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