It's been more than 2 years since I first wrote about Loyle Carner in this blog. In that time he's gradually built up a solid following, playing bigger and bigger shows, been mentioned in the BBC 'Sound of' list, opened a cooking school for kids with ADHD (from which he himself suffers) and has now released his debut album, the brilliant 'Yesterday's Gone'.
It's clear from the opening bars of 'The Isle of Arran' that this is no ordinary rap album. A track about a remote Scottish island featuring a gospel choir, it's not exactly a track about gangs and bitches is it?
That's the wonder of this whole record - it manages to be the authentic sound of British rap without resorting to cliches and lowest common denominator lyrics. Who else would write lyrics about his imaginary sister? Or would write about his parents with such love and warmth, including a poem from his mum and a track by his step-dad who dies last year? Even on the more traditional kind of track 'No CD' he manages to enthuse about the emotional attachments to old records - "Pretty ancient plastic discs of greatness that your parents used to play with" and "The crackle of the vinyl, sweet onto repeat" in a way that belies his youth.
This is singularly the most truthful and honest rap record that I've ever heard. It's not afraid to deal with the most complex of human emotions and it doesn't feel the need to be full of swaggering bravado. It celebrates our frailties as well as our successes, and for that it will always have a place in my heart.
'Yesterday's Gone' is out now on AMF Records, and the tour to support the album starts tonight in Dublin - full details here.