By Jude Habib
Son Little is the stage name of Aaron Livingston, an artist who has collaborated with the likes of The Roots, Mavis Staples, and Portugal.The.Man. He has two released albums: Son Little LP, and New Magic, which was released in 2017. Here are my thoughts on New Magic:
The album starts with the best part of the album, not the song Kimberly’s Mine, but the artist’s voice, soulful and passionate, with a bare guitar. Little has a voice that pulls you nearer, and makes you want to hear what he has to say. He has the kind of voice you can build an album around, which Kimberly’s Mine exemplifies. As the song builds, each layer introduced evokes a different quality in his voice: piano bringing out its eeriness, echoic percussion bringing out its natural rhythmic tendency. His voice is an instrument, and he orchestrated this album around it.
Then Blue Magic and O Me O My are the two more “pop” sounding jingles, because, while he may be more of an underground artist, his lyricism tends to air on the side of pop minimalism; they — and his song lengths — are reminiscent of 60’s Soul, with their magic 2:35 song length — his tend more to 3:33. Minimalism actually permeates his album as a whole, as the most impressive aspect of this album is the subtle composition of the songs.
His last album Son Little LP, labelled him as an alternative, experimental blues revivalist, while this album has outgrown experimentalism, as he has found and settled upon his sound. Little’s album claims to be Alternative, but he falls somewhere between R&B and Soul, heavy on the blues. New Magic is a cohesive 11 tracks and 33 minutes, something uniquely his own. But, his experimentation doesn’t lead him astray, as each instrumentation is carefully crafted to boost the overall sound of the album, accenting and helping emphasize the pervasive and driving guitar, piano, and percussion. If you’re looking for the best song on the album, play track 7, Miss Ona, a 0:51 second song that, while it may not be the best popular song, it is the best song to show off the raw power of Little’s voice. This was the first song that got stuck in my head, making me go back and listen to the album with a closer ear.
His album art rings true, as his sound evokes — maybe not a burning guitar, but — a campfire, the crackle of wood, the smell of charcoal and fresh air. While his artistic influences probably closely resemble his 24k Magic contemporary, he has found himself down a different sounding path. Little truly created something new with this album, and hopefully you will enjoy its magic.