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Review: Not Waving, But Drowing - Loyle Carner

Jonathan Wellington reviews one of the nation's gems newest album.

Describing his singles as “giving away a good book one page at a time”, I got the feeling that Loyle Carner was as eager to release his album as I was eager to listen to it.

The long-awaited sequel to his debut album Yesterday’s Gone made me nervous in the same way any sequel to a favourite film would. So often the sequel disappoints, and the benchmark set by the first album and the recent three stunning singles left me anxious that the rest of the album wouldn’t live up to the same standard. I had nothing to worry about.

This album is simultaneously a story, a poem, and an amazing album. But most importantly for me, it’s a reflection of growth; a pencil mark on the wall for Loyle Carner and all his listeners.

The album flows like it was all one tale, told by a true story-teller with purpose and profoundness that I can’t begin to explain, or even comprehend. The whole album will make you stop whatever you’re thinking about and listen in complete contemplation. My first listen was on a delayed train, which suddenly seemed irrelevant, and I was left with a huge gratefulness that I was heading home to see my family. However, texting my mum my ETA seemed wrong as I wouldn’t be giving the songs adequate attention, and pausing it seemed somehow disrespectful to the music.

Not only is the album a more than adequate sequel to Yesterday’s Gone, it feels like a real progression for Loyle Carner: an evolution. Through the album you can feel his personal growth and it’s so relatable that I’m left reflecting on my own growth.

It might seem like an odd comparison, but the only thing I can equate the feeling of this album to is my experience with the Harry Potter books. The feeling that I was somehow growing up with the characters is the same one I have listening to this album.

It’s a feeling I never even considered could be achieved through music but Not Waving but Drowning somehow achieves this through its soulful beats and clever lyrics. The topics touched upon within the album, the struggle of friendship (‘two best friends who shared the torch, barely talk’ on Krispy) the struggle of moving away from home (‘out the house, never out of touch’ on Dear Jean) and the notion of people suffering silently (Not Waving, But Drowning), will certainly all strike a chord with many of us.

This album is simultaneously a story, a poem, and an amazing album. But most importantly for me, it’s a reflection of growth; a pencil mark on the wall for Loyle Carner and all his listeners.

5/5

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