- 13 May 19
Excellent second album from hip-hop contender.
On Loyle Carner’s sophomore effort, the 24-year-old English musician imbues each of the 15 tracks with wonderfully silky vocals. For good measure, the lyrics have a beguiling, poetic vulnerability. As he accurately says on ‘Ice Water’, one of the album’s many standouts, “I’m smooth like the change of seasons”.
Not Waving, But Drowning boasts a range of strong guest appearances – including Tom Misch, Rebel Kleff and Kiko Bun – though none of them overpower Carner, who crafts a compelling coming-of-age narrative over the course of the record. Opening track ‘Dear Jean’ is a letter to Carner’s mother, in which he reflects on leaving home: “One night I’ll be saying ‘I do’/ To a girl who can read my mind, too.” In a neat twist, ‘Dear Ben’ finds Carner’s mother offering her own thoughts to her son: “I’ve watched you grow from first kick to first kiss… Watched you hold your own from boy to man.”
With various tracks containing pieces of dialogue, the production feels quite intimate. ‘England Penalty Shootout’, for example, is a 36-second audio clip featuring a group of friends cheering a football match, whilst ‘Looking Back’ incorporates a snippet of Carner ordering soup. It’s strangely immersive, making you feel part of the singer’s story. Another highlight is ‘Loose Ends’, which features a match made in heaven: Jorja Smith’s angelic harmonies paired with Carner’s mesmeric rapping. Soulful and raw, Not Waving, But Drowning is a hugely impressive album.