Loyle Carner: Not Waving, But Drowning review – Hip-hopper’s love runs deep
Not Waving, but Drowning
Hip-Hop & Rap
Loyle Carner loves his mother and vice versa, but the Mercury Prize-nominated hip-hop storyteller doesn’t do mawkishness. Rather, he spills out the plain, often emotional truths as he sees them.
Following his 2017 debut album, Yesterday’s Gone – itself a benchmark in confessional rap – with a record of such emotional depth isn’t necessarily a fearless move, but it’s a logical one. Carner is an artist who has family and friends, their flaws and virtues, at the forefront of his thoughts, and processes these through his music.
The album is exquisitely bookended, starting with Dear Jean (a letter to his mother telling her he has fallen in love with “a woman from the skies”) and ending with Dear Bean (a response from his mother to the news: “You have finally found your one, your golden snitch, and my task is done”).
Incorporated in between are deeply personal songs about his biological father and stepfather (Looking Back), and various friendships, both broken and invulnerable. Threading all together is graceful jazz/soul music, some terrific guest vocalists (Jorja Smith on Loose Ends, Jordan Rakei on Ottolenghi) and poetic, fluid delivery.