Review By Dustin Griffin
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Aaron Livingston has been cranking out quality soulful rhythm and blues for years now. Both under his own name and as one half of Icebird, the defunct roots project he struck up with multitalented musician RJD2.
Here Livingston again strikes out on his own, making the moniker Son Little. And while the blues has always been a major component of his vocal makeup, it seems to be on more prominent display here than ever before.
Livingston got his first big break providing vocals to the 2004 Roots hit ‘Guns Are Drawn.’ And while he hasn’t really stopped or even slowed down in the interim, his debut EP as Son Little, ‘Things I Forgot’ contains all the things that make for the start of a great and prosperous career.
Leading off with the danceable folky blues thumper ‘The River’, the song features a plethora of instruments that do what instruments should always do in service of a voice such as Livingston’s: augment it.
The EP’s standout track ‘Your Love Will Blow Me Away’ begins with the kind of R&B crooning that, if you didn’t know better, you’d think came right out of the 50’s. A sharp, lumbering beat manages to add a little funk to the song without ever detracting from the main melody. There’s also some beautiful BB King-like guitar squealing floating around in the back somewhere.
‘Cross My Heart’, with its Trent Reznor meets The Roots backbeat, clashing beautifully with Livingston’s gospel soaked vocal hook sounds like a radio hit in waiting. And all of it buffering the ethereal gang of voices bouncing around in the back there somewhere. It’s a pretty impressive little song.
As a bonus, the EP also contains an RJD2 remix of the song which doesn’t sound dramatically different, but does put an emphasis on drum sounds, including an especially cool sounding snare rim.
‘Joy’ pairs some gothic sounding organ with a moaning, desperate cry for help in the vocals. It’s a haunting, gorgeous song with very refined sentiments on happiness, or the lack thereof. Lyrics like “and you haunt me like a dove, then disappear in smoke” are examples of the kind of desperate poeticism that runs throughout the album. And ‘Alice’ is another rocky rhythm and blues number that sounds like the kind of revivalism being churned out by the likes of The James Hunter Six and JD McPherson. Which is some damn fine company to be in.
There really isn’t a lot to ‘Things I Forgot.’ Which isn’t a knock. The sets minimalism serves its concept and I’ve no doubt this was Livingston’s intended effect from the outset. The songs are all beautifully rendered rumination’s on love, loneliness and the pursuit of inner peace. All delivered with a deep gut level melody and carried through on Livingston’s very exciting soulful vocal rasp.
‘Things I Forgot’ is one of the best releases of the year and I truly hope Livingston continues on with this particular incarnation of his musical identity. I would love to see a full length Son Little record to follow.