Very few authors, inside of music or out, make the concept of loving a man sound as viable as serpentwithfeet. The Baltimore-originating singer studies them, and takes great pains across his sophomore album DEACON to present them in the very best light. “His outfit kinda corny, you know that’s my type/A corny man's a healthy man, you know his mind right,” he sings on “Malik.” DEACON is titled for one of the Black church’s most steadfast presences and plays as a love letter to the men in the singer's life, be they friends or lovers. “I’m thankful for the love I share with my friends,” he sings on “Fellowship,” a song that features contributions from Sampha and Lil Silva. Romance, though, is a constant presence across DEACON, and serpent frames the intimacy he enjoys with partners in ways that could make a lonely person writhe with jealousy. “He never played football, but look at how he holds me,” he sings on “Hyacinth.” “He never needed silverware but I'm his little spoon.” We can’t know how generous serpent has been in his descriptors, but songs like “Heart Storm” (with NAO), “Wood Boy,” and “Derrick’s Beard” paint pictures of individuals and experiences so palpable they’ll leave you pining for dalliances past.

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