ALBUM REVIEW: Like Neptune by Son Little
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WRITTEN BY: Eva Agabegi
Throughout his musical journey, Son Little (aka Aaron Livingston) has incorporated many modern R&B and hip hop musical elements into his work. Little’s newest release, Like Neptune, emulates a more mellow feel within the blues genre. According to Little, the album was created in a cabin in upstate New York, which certainly seemed to inspire the introspective feel that each of the tracks give. Like Neptune provides a look inward upon the soul and veers away from the feeling of pain from past experiences that many of Little’s earlier works possessed. Instead, the project focuses more on “the light at the end of the tunnel,” proving that true healing and growth is possible through experiences of generational trauma.
The album begins with the opening track “drummer,” which gives a taste of some old-school blues within the upbeat rhythm of the song. Little has spoken of his struggles with the imposter syndrome and self-doubt that has plagued his creative ability as an artist which this tune captures the essence of. Songs such as “6am” and “bend yr ear” demonstrate Little’s stylistic range as they shift into a lot more psychedelic instrumentation while still including some of his musical signatures such as his raspy voice. Little says that his continuous reference to “Neptune” within the title track and the album title is meant to be a symbol of the most joyous and carefree part of himself—a state of mind that he continuously strives to reach more often. While tracks such as “like neptune” and “stoned love” appear to be light-hearted bops focused on the good parts of life, others offer the introspectivity that makes this album as intense and sentimental as it is. “deeper” portrays Little using a philosophical lens to explore the mental and spiritual meaning of human life in depth. The song gives the message that we must tap into our higher selves to reach a sense of clarity. As we close out the album, the upbeat feel of the opening track is mirrored in its ending.
The last track, “what’s good,” is a symbol of Little’s final resting state of his experiences, both good and bad, and how they have made him who he is. His previous work has depicted his nostalgia for a life he wished he had lived. However, in the last song of the album, instead of mourning the loss of his innocence, he accepts and appreciates the opportunity it has given him to evolve: “It’s been a long time coming, as long as I’m still breathing, I am heathen.”
Like Neptune, containing very emotionally heavy ballads while keeping with the vintage R&B and soul groove that Little has carried throughout his career, is not only an enjoyable listen but also of cathartic significance to the listener and to Little himself. It creates a window into his soul and brings you along his journey of self-reflection and growth through music. The convoluted and contrastive tracks truly evoke the complexity of human emotion Little intends to capture the essence of in this album.