My Vote For ‘Next Big Thing’? Son Little
Sometimes, we get a feeling.
It doesn't happen for me as often as it used to. My mailbox and social media feeds are flooded with music all day, every day. Almost all of it is good, and that's the problem. With so much good music out there, nothing below "great" catches my attention. It's the musical equivalent of grade inflation.
The first time I heard the Strokes I knew that something really special was happening. Same with Charles Bradley and the Alabama Shakes.
If I miss a new band out of the gate it's no big deal -- my loss, but nobody gets hurt. Imagine being Decca Records executives Dick Rowe and Mike Smith, who passed on the Beatles because "guitar bands are on their way out."
Anyway, I'm way off topic.
Son Little's new EP, 'Things I Forgot,' landed in my hands a couple of days ago, and I got that feeling. You will too, when you give the opening track, 'The River,' a spin:
There is something very special going on there. It's retro, but it's not; it's roots, but it feels contemporary. NPR's Rita Houston (WFUV, New York) nails it:
Samples, fuzzy guitar and simple drums work together to create an undeniable groove, and as a songwriter, he can really tell a story. As a vocalist, [Little] brings the heartbreak -- his voice feels real and rough around the edges -- while his impeccably crafted songs are honest and unpretentious. There's not a self-conscious moment here, yet it's pop music at the core.
So who the heck is this guy, and how did he just magically appear? He's Aaron Livingston -- and he didn't. Under his given name he's worked with both the Roots and RJD2, the latter contributing a rum-soaked remix of 'Cross My Heart' to the new EP. This past summer he was out on the road, opening for Kelis. Like most overnight sensations, Little is actually a seasoned veteran.
With experience comes exposure, and Little/Livingston demonstrates an exceptional range of influences, from blues to hip hop to the straight up '70s soul of 'Joy':
'Things I Forgot' is a true EP -- only five tracks plus a remix -- but they are five essential cuts. Little is touring Europe right now, but he'll be back, and when he is I'll be there. I'm not missing the boat this time.