Loyle Carner – Not Waving, But Drowning

Not Waving, But Drowning Album Cover.

RATING: 8/10

Must Listens:

  • Ottolenghi (feat. Jordon Rakei)
  • Loose Ends (feat. Jorja Smith)
  • Still

One of UK’s finest Loyle Carner has returned with his second album, the beautifully vulnerable Not Waving, But Drowning. His debut album, Yesterday’s Gone, was a candid entrance exploring his upbringing in South London and introducing us to his youthful and melancholy bravado. However this time round, Not Waving, But Drowning portrays his not so straightforward growth into adulthood through a more optimistic and mature, laid-back jazz aesthetic.

The song’s opening track, Dear Jean, is an emotional letter to his mother as he moves out of home and moves in with his girlfriend. It establishes what the whole album is really about, him showing appreciation to the people closest to him – his mother, his girlfriend, his late father and his close friend and collaborator, Rebel Kleff. The album has a noticeably succinct sound compared to his previous work although this has its own pro’s and con’s. While it helped him create a more whole project, I found myself getting lost into the soulful chill vibe of the album but with Yesterday’s Gone, it had a more playful and somewhat triumphant feel to it. Although, we do see glimpses of this in tracks like Ice Water and You Don’t Know (feat. Kiko Bun & Rebel Kleff. The two singles, Ottolenghi (feat. Jordon Rakei) and Loose Ends (feat. Jorja Smith), remain my favourite from the album however Still and Krispy were also huge standouts.

Krispy is an open track about his relationship with Rebel Kleff from childhood friends to nothing more than business partners. This song gave some of the album’s most frank lyrics, such as “Give a f*ck about money or an e-track, I just want my G back”, and ended with a pensive flugelhorn solo, replacing the Rebel Kleff verse after he didn’t turn up to contribute to the recording. I would say the biggest disappointment from album is Desoleil (feat. Sampha) but only because I think they could create some truly incredible tracks together. I just felt that it was lacklustre and drearily dragged out for longer than it should’ve.

It’s hard to not talk about every track, as I found Caluccio and Angel (feat. Tom Misch) really enjoyable but in the hopes to keep this concise, there’s only one track I wish to discuss further. The closing poem by Loyle Carner’s mum Jean is titled Dear Ben and is a heartfelt response to the opening track. The captivating imagery is placed over the top of her late husband’s unreleased work – a theme that was present on Loyle Carner’s previous album too – and slowly closes the album with the end line “For I’ve gained a daughter, I’ve not lost a son.”

Truly another beautiful album from UK’s confessional Loyle Carner.

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2 thoughts on “Loyle Carner – Not Waving, But Drowning

  1. Jackson Reid April 26, 2019 / 10:15 am

    Great read Frank! I started listening to your order of recommendations while reading it. That part about the song about his friend and him growing apart having the flugelhorn solo in replacement of his friend’s feature was really heavy. Knowing things like that as one goes into listening to an album really makes me feel more involved with the album, despite never hearing any of this bloke’s songs.

    Good stuff mate, keep it up!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. franktremain April 30, 2019 / 3:46 am

    Thanks, man! You should definitely listen to Yesterday’s Gone by him. Initially, I thought I liked that more than this album but I don’t know now though, Not Waving, But Drowning is really growing on me.


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