Son Little: Son Little (Anti)

 |   |  1 min read

Son Little: Loser Blues
Son Little: Son Little (Anti)

If we believe what we read -- rather than accept the evidence of our ears -- this hip young black American from LA (real name Aaron Livngstone) is the bridge between classic soul and contemporary hip-hop. And more.

Well, let's just come right out and say it.

To be that you'd have to write stronger and more soulful songs than are on this debut album which is both half-baked and over-cooked.

Half-baked because such songs as are here among the 12 are slim offerings which come up short in such trivial matters like choruses and memorability, and over-cooked because in many places they are treated to odd but interesting splatters of brittle electric guitar, primitive electronica and kerthunk percussion.

At time Son Little's references point seem to be Justin Timberlake trying to be Tom Waits while letting in a little Michael Jackson's popping "ooehw" (Your Love Will Blow Me Away), or a minimalist funkster with a collection of old blues who can't quite make up his mind (the harmonica-coloured Carbon, among the better tracks, and Doctor's In with slippery electric piano and Southern funk/Fat Possom undertones).

The ballad Lay Down is pretty, and the excellent O Mother is his connection to Philly soul, albeit it reduced to skeletal elements with an emotional ache ("Is there anybody rooting for the kid?") and with anorexic, psychedelic guitar over what sounds like backward tapes. 

So this takes some while to get a bead on, but despite considerable great stuff scattered around (Loser Bues) it is far too uneven and unfocused to be entirely persuasive across all the territory it roams. 

Little is certainly a self-believer because in his hagiography-cum-bio he is quoted as saying, "I can hear places in the songs without trying to evoke them while writing. I can trace to where a lot of my music comes from, as my life and family touch so many different places. I can hear Lake Charles, Louisiana in my voice, the way I say some words; I hear New York in my lyrics. Detroit is a place I haven't spent a ton of time in, but if I explore the music of Detroit I can hear myself in there too."

Make what you will of that.

It's an odd observation to make, but he's a major talent emerging . . . although not on the overall evidence of this uneven debut. 

Share It

Your Comments

Jos - Dec 7, 2015

Im loving it on first listen, a surprise around every corner...

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Hyacinth House: Black Crows' Country (Phantom)

Hyacinth House: Black Crows' Country (Phantom)

Very belated acknowledgement of an album that was recorded in 2007, came out Stateside in 2008 (to little fanfare) but to the best of my knowledge only appeared in New Zealand in late 2009.... > Read more

Various artists: Crazy Heart soundtrack (New West)

Various artists: Crazy Heart soundtrack (New West)

This soundtrack album is from the excellent movie which has been picking up Jeff Bridges acclaim and awards, as it should. He does a terrific job as an aging country singer whose career has been... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere



Ebony Lamb – of Eb and Sparrow who have opened for Pokey LaFarge, Wagons, the Warratahs, Tami Neilson and many other folk-country luminaries – embark on an extensive New Zealand tour... > Read more

Ayam Pongteh (Chicken and Potato Stew, Malaysian style)

Ayam Pongteh (Chicken and Potato Stew, Malaysian style)

In late 2007 I spent a couple of weeks travelling around Malaysia -- and notably went to Melaka, the food capital of the country where Baba Nyonya food is a local speciality. Baba Nyonya is the... > Read more