Music Review: 'Son Little,' Son Little

Oct 20, 2015
Originally published on October 20, 2015 7:22 pm
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Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Son Little's music can be a little tricky to classify. One writer called him Sam Cook in outer space.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOUR LOVE WILL BLOW ME AWAY")

SON LITTLE: (Singing) Runaway, this afghan kush we're bubbling won't burn away.

CORNISH: The singer, also known as Aaron Livingston, came up in R&B and hip-hop and has recorded with The Roots and RJD2. He says he makes American music. Tom Moon has been listening to Son Little's first full-length album and says through his many music styles, one thing stands out.

TOM MOON, BYLINE: You might think Son Little is another roots artist, mining the blues for inspiration.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOSER BLUES")

LITTLE: (Singing) Well, the moon is low and the orange glows like cellophane. Yeah. There's a cold wind in my heart, the tiny darts bring a shooting pain.

MOON: Then again, maybe he's part of the retro '80s new wave army.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TOES")

LITTLE: (Singing) You stay in bed, I hit the gym, play hard to get, I'll have you yet, splitter right down the middle here, fear my alter ego's ears, whispering lips that kiss me here. baby love's a flame

MOON: Or maybe he's a socially conscious soul singer following in the footsteps of Marvin Gaye.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "O, MOTHER")

LITTLE: (Singing) Oh, Mother, why do they treat me like I'm not a man? And I wonder, does anybody know just who I am? Or can I love the world exactly as it is or do I have to split? Is there anybody rooting for the kid?

MOON: Son Little told me recently he doesn't worry about the genre tags that are applied to his songs. He's proud of the fact that there isn't one term that covers all of his music, even if that makes his album a marketing challenge.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE RIVER")

LITTLE: (Singing) Want you so bad, it's like I'm out of time. Want you so bad I have to break your mind. Give me your love, baby, all the time. Give me your love, baby, you got mine. Now walk me to the river, darling. Rock me in the river, darling.

MOON: Son Little recorded this album largely by himself. He comes across like a mad scientist who's determined to restore vitality to styles that have been washed out by too many revivals. In this quest, he has a unique asset - his voice. He sings like a preacher's son, which he is, and delivers his phrases like he knows he might get only one chance to grab your attention. When a singer communicates with this intensity, it really doesn't matter what the music is called.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GO BLUE BLOOD RED")

LITTLE: (Singing) We've only just begun. And I know the time has come...

CORNISH: That was Tom Moon reviewing the new self-titled album from Son Little.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GO BLUE BLOOD RED")

LITTLE: (Singing) There's nothing good new under the sun, never knew what that meant. But I'm a code blue and then I'm a blood red and I'm a code blue... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.