As his EP A Little Late showed us, Carner isn’t afraid to be vulnerable in his music or his words, exposing his pain like an open wound. Yesterday’s Gone is no less honest, talking about family and the plight of a young man. Carner perfectly captures that post-university period of one’s twenties when suddenly adulthood seems a bit crap and the temptation to pull the cosy blanket of nostalgia around you and imagine better times is hard to resist.
Opening track ‘The Isle of Arran’, takes it’s name from the Scottish island where Carner holidayed throughout his life. This gospel-infused track has a puzzlingly negative message for opening an album, “I’ve been holding out for G but he was nowhere to be seen” says Carner. An ode to those who have suffered and given up, not through lack of trying, but without a hand to help them. “There’s nothing to believe in, believe me” Carner spits, remembering his own absent Dad and past girlfriends. The video pays tribute to young dad’s, Carner acting in the role himself – an appropriate image to convey the feeling he experienced following the death of his stepfather, leaving Carner and his younger brother with their mother (who features in most of Carner’s videos).
the confession of a young man looking for a cure for his loneliness in a girl he doesn’t truly care about
In interlude ‘Swear’ we hear Carner’s mum bickering with her son over his use of swear words; a touchingly innocent exchange in which we might imagine a boy much younger than Carner (aged 22). ‘+44’ (like the UK mobile code) is considerably less innocent, more like spoken-word poetry than rap, it is the confession of a young man looking for a cure for his loneliness in a girl he doesn’t truly care about. These two 30 second tracks exemplify the complications with navigating through family life into adulthood, and how the two don’t always agree with one another.
The production on Yesterday’s Gone is the work of friend and collaborator to Carner, Rebel Kleff. Uninterested in following the UK’s recently popularised grime movement, the pair have kept Carner’s sound positively laid-back, with slow hip-hop beats reminiscent of the 90s and simple guitar riffs. This couldn’t be better suited to Loyle’s sensitive lyrics. In my favourite track ‘Florence’, Carner imagines the little sister he never had, “She could be my little freckle-faced fidgeter, me but miniature”, he muses. ‘Mrs C’ tells the moving story of going to visit a sick friend, a woman who is a mother. His own mother is the subject of tear-jerking ’Sun of Jean’, in which she features with her own words describing Ben Coyle-Larner as a “cartwheeling chatterbox of tricks”, “the world is his, that scribble of a boy” she ends.
The album flows effortlessly, every lyeric pouring from carner’s deep crackling voice
‘Mummy’s boy’ doesn’t seem like such a patronising phrase in the case of Carner, who is clearly shaped by the women in his life whom he has an unwavering sensitivity and respect for. Yesterday’s Gone closes with a reminder that as hard as it can be, we must resist looking into the past, as yesterday has indeed been and gone and we must look past darkness into a bright future.
The album flows effortlessly, every lyric pouring from Carner’s deep crackling voice like he’s freestyling every track. This is an impressive and irresistible debut; if you aren’t already obsessed with Loyle Carner, you soon will be.