While Loyle Carner’s alias is a play on his real name Benjamin Coyle-Larner, his lyrics are no doubt to the point, void of unnecessary embellishment but still multi-dimensional. In fact, the term ‘lyrics’ feels a bit of a stretch, simply because it feels like Loyle Carner is speaking directly to you.
Carner is right at the centre of a new wave of South London musicians, producers and artists pushing their way to the forefront of the talent pool. Having supported Stateside rapper Joey Badass on his UK tour as well as collaborating with artists a little closer to home, such as fellow South Londoner Tom Misch, Carner’s abilities haven’t gone unnoticed. Though he’s drummed up a steady following over the last couple of years, Carner has typically kept a tight grip on how much music he released. Yet you need look no further than his debut album, Yesterday’s Gone, to realise that it was well worth the wait.
‘The Isle of Arran’ makes a bold departure point for Yesterday’s Gone, pairing gospel tones in the chorus with melancholic piano and Carner’s straight talking. Meanwhile ‘Damselfly’ – the offspring of a tried-and-tested Carner/Tom Misch partnership – flirts with fluttering jazz overtones, just one of many successful genre pairings scattered throughout the album. Yesterday’s Gone naturally features Carner staples such as ‘Ain’t Nothing Changed’ and ‘Stars and Shards’ too, which paved the way for his growing success and cemented his brand of low-key, mixed-up hip-hop. Snippets of conversation and spoken word are sprinkled throughout the album too, revealing the softness of his voice.
In fact, it’s thanks to his gentle, accessible voice that allows for a real understanding of what he’s telling us. OCD; absent fathers; ADHD – everything that Carner has experience is framed so clearly yet poetically when he’s at the helm. It’s thanks to talent such as his that dialogues open and people begin to understand things foreign to them. The fluidity, beauty and sincerity of Yesterday’s Gone warrant multiple listens, and it’s these subsequent listens that reveal hidden gems, subtle wordplays, and ideas that are phrased somehow both directly and eloquently at the same time. You might start listening to an album by Loyle Carner, but you’ll no doubt finish an album by Benjamin Coyle-Larner.