Yesterday's Gone

Yesterday's Gone

Yesterday’s Gone is the portrait of the artist as a young man, but it’s something Loyle Carner finds impossible to paint without the colours, outlines and impressions of his friends and family. This confessional debut is an introduction to a singular British talent—an incendiary rapper and poet—but his voice is only one of a chorus. Step back and you’ll see that the record is a vast tapestry of storytelling, of community and responsibility; of daydreams and memories, both tender and painful, that are the total of Loyle Carner’s yesterdays and the promise of all his tomorrows. Carner comes out swinging with “The Isle of Arran”. Built upon a foundation of S.C.I. Youth Choir’s “The Lord Will Make a Way”, it announces itself with biblical triumph as if he were a boxer stepping into the ring—but his opponent won’t show up. “I wonder why my dad didn’t want me/Ex didn’t need me,” he demands, naming the track after the home of his grandfather, one of the few major male role models in his upbringing. He wrestles with the weight of the twentysomething experience through deeply personal, humdrum vignettes. The soft-dying blues of “Damselfly” sees Carner confront the stagnancy of his romantic relationships, interrupted by the sound of him eagerly checking his phone when he gets a text only to be crushed to find it’s just a friend. The jazz-flecked “Ain’t Nothing Changed”, which samples Italian composer Piero Umiliani, reckons with the burden of coming of age in the inner city. Yet there are dazzling shafts of light which break through the occasional darkness. “Florence”, in which Carner imagines his bond with a younger sister, ties your heart in knots with every piano flourish, and “Mrs C” is a tender homage to his best friend’s mother after her cancer diagnosis, devoting an entire verse to how much he loves her bagels with child-like tenderness. These golden threads of affection come together in the quietly devastating “Sun of Jean”, partly inspired by music written by his late stepfather and concluded by a poem written and read by his mother. It aches with familial warmth, bringing the confusion of Carner into startling clarity in a way that only a mother can: “He was and is a complete joy/The world is his/That scribble of a boy”.

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