Album Review -Not Waving But Drowning by Loyle Carner

I remember a Friday night at home in my room bored out of my mind. I remember scrolling through Youtube looking for something organic and inspiring, I had found my current batch of music playlists stale and morbid and the popular charts weren’t much to look up to either. So still on Youtube I went on the British GQ channel and scrolled down the playlists. So as I’m scrolling down I stumble upon this one interview about a certain Loyle Carner talking about being drunk while writing, ADHD and all that so I click on it and watch. When the video finishes I sit back and think to myself, “if his music is half as good as his personality he might have a brilliant thing here,” so I write on a piece of paper to listen to his album tomorrow then go to bed.


The next day’s afternoon is damp and grey so I’m happy I couldn’t have been more at peace, I was wrong.
I’m mopping the kitchen floor waiting for a football match when I come across this piece of paper with the words “Loyle” and “Drowning” scribbled across then it suddenly hits me. I take out my phone, connect it to the speaker and look for his album “Not Waving but Drowning”. Keep in mind though that I had lost faith in the state of current music so I wasn’t expecting too much. I played the first song, then the second and by the time I reached Ice Water I was dancing with the mop with happiest grin on my face, my little sister peaked her nosy head into the room and was instantly drawn by the music and we were both singing along to lyrics we didn’t know.

How to describe his album? I would say it’s personal, like an open wound by a mic. It’s title is deep and the flow of the tracks are like nothing I’ve heard before (his music introduced me to other artists like Tom Misch and Jorja Smith). It’s almost like he’s taken two generations of music; the seventies type era along with our modern hip-hop and not made it a hybrid but took both of them, broke them down and built them up into something so soothing and enthralling it’s fascinating. His songs portray his personal life in a cool lyrical way but still allows him to express his emotions which is a form of vulnerability you don’t find often. When you listen to the tracks you sort of start to understand the type of person he is; a humble, normal down to earth bloke with a complex relationship with fatherhood, adoration for his mother, how much he cares for his mates, navigating life as biracial and simple day to day things like football and conversations. His addition of artists like Jorja Smith and Sampha definitely brings a deeper feel to it along with Tom Misch who brings both empathy and liveliness. The beats are like nothing I’ve heard of, in a cool brooding in the tree-house while it rains type vibe.

If there’s anything I would want from the album is the feeling I got that Saturday afternoon when I first listened to it. That feeling of innocent elation at something that wasn’t mind blowing, wasn’t teeth gnashing but was simply and best of all the cool, profound and earnest way he delivered his thoughts in the form of music. Although I can’t reclaim that feeling, it still lingers whenever I listen to “Not Waving but Drowning”, especially on a damp rainy day.

My favorite song in the album is Ice Water.



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