Back in August 2017 I briefly commented on the Mercury Music Prize nominees and threw some out and added some in, this album was actually nominated and I kept it in because it is a fine album.
Loyle Carner is a stage name, his actual name is Benjamin Gerard Coyle-Larner, which means that his stage name is a spoonerism of his double barrelled surname, that amuses me.
Carner played his first official gig at The Button Factory in Dublin, Ireland in October 2012 supporting MF Doom. He released his first EP in September 2014, titled A Little Late, which was well received and he supported Joey Badass on his UK tour and went on to play the 2015 UK festival season, including Glastonbury Festival. He went on tour and collaborated with poet and spoken-word artist Kate Tempest in late 2015 and In October 2015 he played on Huw Stephens’ BBC Radio 1 show as part of their Piano Sessions series. In late August 2016, he supported Nasin his show at the O2 Academy Bristol. Then, in 2017, he released his first album.
It wasn’t until I saw the Mercury Music Prize nominations that Carner came to my attention and it was the opening track of the album that was the first thing I heard. Isle Of Arran.
The song title refers to island in Scotland’s Firth of Clyde known for its beautiful mountainous scenery. Carner explained to BBC Radio 1’s Annie Mac: “I spent a lot of time there. It’s where my granddad grew up, it a little island off the top of Scotland and there’s not much to do there. It’s a very long journey (from London) but it’s beautiful, it’s secluded.” ’The track samples 60’s cut The Lord Will Make A Way by S.C.I Youth Choir in what must be perceived as an ironic way as the song counter lyrically with “Standby, didn’t need no help from no damn guy / Man by, I’ve been making waves all my damn life.” The track has emotional and philosophical depth as it discusses why today’s youths see religion as futile when their world is one of despair, inequality and lack of prospects. We can go all the way back to 1977 and God Save The Queen by the Sex Pistols to hear:
There is no future in England’s dreaming
Don’t be told what you want, don’t be told what you need
There’s no future, no future, no future for you
Though more personal and contemplative, the message is the same 40 years on.
Listening to the album sequentially there is the sense of being let in to view a life, with conversations taking place between and during tracks and stories being told, also, it’s pretty catchy in places, exemplified below with No CD.
The knowledge that Carner has been diagnosed with ADHD and Dyslexia informs the listener when listening to this track, at least to some degree, but what comes across through the entire album and various bits of interviews I’ve watched is the authenticity of Carner. He is not shouting about bitches or gold chains or guns, but about the realities of his life and how they affect him and others like him, told in his own accent and with what feels like genuine sincerity.
|1.||“The Isle of Arran”||3:34|
|2.||“Mean It in the Morning”||2:39|
|4.||“Damselfly” (featuring Tom Misch)||2:52|
|5.||“Ain’t Nothing Changed”||3:10|
|7.||“Florence” (featuring Kwes)||3:04|
|8.||“The Seamstress (Tooting Masala)”||2:31|
|9.||“Stars & Shards”||3:04|
|10.||“No Worries” (featuring Jehst and Rebel Kleff)||4:30|
|12.||“No CD” (featuring Rebel Kleff)||4:16|
|14.||“Sun of Jean”||5:14|
Sampha won the Mercury Music Prize for 2017 but in many ways that doesn’t mater as it brought this album exposure to a wider audience just by being nominated. I’m glad I made the decision to get a copy for myself as I’m pretty confident it is going to get a lot of spins.