- 26 Mar 21
Super-sensual album from avant-garde popster.
Growing up in a religious environment in Baltimore had a profound influence on serpentwithfeet, known to his parents as Josiah Wise. His dad ran a Christian bookstore and his mother was a choir director; his earliest singing experiences were with the Maryland State Boys Choir. This probably explains the gospel and classical elements in his music, though they’re only ingredients in a mix that also includes R&B, soul, leftfield pop and hip-hop.
DEACON, his second LP, is serpent’s attempt to make a “grown and sexy” album. The result is a short album, clocking in at just under 29 minutes, and celebrating friendship (‘Fellowship’), sensuality (‘Amir’) and carnality (‘Wood Boy’). The staccato rhythms and soulful vocal of ‘Same Size Shoe’ are super-addictive, the singer explaining his choice in lovers in ways that would make your granny blush: “My auntie’s right, don’t fuck a man/ If his shoes are two times the size of your hand.”
The stirring vocal effects reward listening on headphones as they slide, soar and roar in and out of earshot via magnificently intricate arrangements. The tender ‘Hyacinth’ veers from sweeping choral ensembles to call-and-response soul, while the acrobatic duet of ‘Heart Storm’, featuring London singer-songwriter Nao, could be a hymn to the almighty or a declaration of love.
DEACON defies expectations at every turn, but it is seriously addictive.