Across the Pond, I Find a Poetic PowerhouseBy Nora Turner | 20/4/18 1:18pm
As we wait for summer, the painful countdown of finals begins and music becomes the crutch for my spirit. This is the time of year where I’ve been known to blast “Hot Fuss” multiple times per day.
But a feeling even sweeter than the upcoming summer is a new album by one of the best modern songwriters. I couldn’t have been more excited to tune in to L.A. Salami’s, “The City of Bootmakers,” as I worked on homework in a rare moment of quiet in my apartment.
“Bootmakers” is carried by the bluesy voice of Lookman Adekunle Salami and his tales of the struggles of modern London with a sharp talent for musical storytelling that is reminiscent of Bob Dylan and Patti Smith. Salami’s creative wit and characters always keep me listening, and coming back to discover something new.
Opening with “Sunrise (intro),” the album sets itself up with happiness steeped in playful piano licks and a sing-a-long verse. Salami wastes no time jumping into his single, “Generation L(ost)” and a critique of young millenials. This theme that courses throughout “Bookeepers” is both insightful and self-deprecating. Salami’s own skinny jeans are too tight, but he is wise beyond his years.
There is fun and joy in an excursion through London on “Brick Lane,” with a train ride to the hip new bar where “cash flows from all the wealthy come in/who seem not to like the scene that led them on.” But all the other hipsters are already there and Salami struggles with the gentrification of the city he’s known his whole life.
“England is Unwell” is a palpable frustration of the state of his country and its hostility towards immigrants. Salami’s ideas and laments spill out like a late-night conversation. As “something in the air here doesn’t feel just right” his love for England is clouded by its negative attitudes.
I was first introduced to Salami’s work until last summer’s Newport Folk Festival, which is one of the best parts of my summer. I fell in love with Salami’s keen lyricism and seemingly endless imagery on his 2016 breakout record, “Dancing With Bad Grammar” and its working-class serenade, “Day to Day for 6 Days a Week.” But “Bootmakers” raises up the volume and production variety, making it an awesome summer time album, full of the highs and lows we all find in the sun.
His acoustic and folk roots are still found in “The Tailsman on the Age of Glass” and its brooding closer that asks what we have all been asking; “What Is This?”