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Son Little Brings Soul to its Knees on New Album

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For a minute now, this magazine has heralded the work of  Son Little. There’s just something magical in how the artist also known as Aaron Earl Livingston approaches his songs. With his last offering being a stirring EP titled invisible, we were shocked at how well put together it sounded. Now with a new full length aloha out tomorrow, Little emotes voices of R&B and soul past that remind you of the work of Sam Cooke and Bill Withers without leaning too heavily on either. Recorded in Paris and written in just eight days, Little takes your ears on a ride full of emotive heft and soulful arrangements from beginning to end.

The album opens with the R&B graced notes of “hey rose” where Little sets the stage for what’s to come. As soulful as the track is, it doesn’t prepare you for the gritty jaunt Little takes on the second track “about her, again.” With moments of silence where his raspy vocals take center stage, the way her sets out at the track offers an emotional weight you don’t get very often. The way you can hear the pain in his vocals here is as mesmerizing as it is alluring. This occurs in a different way again with “mahalia.” With a more reggae vibe, Little doesn’t choose the easy route. Much of the song has little instrumentation, yet it works in its own way. When Little wants to grab your attention, he does so with the least amount of energy.

Yet, that’s not the crux of the album. While Little does a lot with less on “bbbaby,” he ticks up on “3rd eye weeping” like it’s the sixties and he just wants to see you get down. The heavy instrumentation and upbeat stride work perfectly alongside Little’s sweet vocals. The contrast flows in a way that has those trickles of what made the motor city so infallible in its heyday. The funky and soul laced sound of “belladonna”has a similar approach. Not as up but with as much well crafted arrangement, Little lays down the jam in a way that feels organic and without hesitation.

While so much of the album fills your head with soft tones and wisps of the absence of sound, Little drives his soulful tone home on “neve give up.” The most diverse track of the album, it has these little ditties throughout that spear the track into your chest. The way the vocals sound like they’re being told to you personally, the funky guitar licks that mesh with the spacey tones and the backing vocals all make it an intriguing ride you can’t help but take again and again. aloha is different in its approach, yet it’s still Son Little at his most creative space. By allowing himself to look outside of his comfort zone, the album falls on your ears in an organic way that works better than if it were crammed down your throat.

aloha will be made available tomorrow on all streaming sites and digital services. It can be preordered directly from Anti Records on physical formats and bundles. Son Little is on tour starting tomorrow in Burlington, VT at ArtsRiot until April 10 in Barcelona, Spain at La Nau Locales de Ensayo. His complete tour schedule is located here

Image Credits: Photo by Shervin Lainez.

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David Garrick

David Garrick has spent the last five years interviewing some of the most intriguing and engaging artists performing today. Everyone from Angel Olsen to Phoebe Bridgers, Wire to Yo La Tengo, Snail Mail to Soccer Mommy, Ghost to First Aid Kit, The Breeders to Protomartyr, and many more. He's a giant fan of music of pretty much any genre; but especially to the underdogs. He's been known to see more concerts in a week than many people will see in a year.

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