Lil Silva really isn’t one to rush the process. The Bedford producer and songwriter (real name TJ Carter) has been steadily working towards releasing his debut solo album for well over a decade, stopping along the way to work with the likes of Adele, Mark Ronson and Kano in recent years. Silva’s impressive CV also includes his OTHERLiiNE collaboration with the Berlin-based DJ and producer George FitzGerald, while we shouldn’t overlook the fact that he first made waves as a solo artist all the way back in 2010 thanks to the dancefloor-unifying likes of his UK funky tracks ‘Seasons’ and ‘Pulse Vs Flex’.
With so much occupying his day-to-day – and his affinity for meditative practises – it’s not too surprising to discover that work on ‘Yesterday Is Heavy’ only really began in earnest in 2019. “This whole album is about living in the now and the hope of that,” Silva recently told NME while explaining why the record was only ever going to materialise when the time was exactly right. “Not fast-forwarding too much in terms of goals, [because then] it all becomes a bit cloudy. You set yourself up for so much, [but] you want to focus on one thing, give that 100 per cent.”
‘Yesterday Is Heavy’ certainly finds Lil Silva at full focus, serving up a dozen tracks of his self-described “Silva sound” which flit between uplifting moments of soul (‘Leave It’, ‘About Us’, the serpentwithfeet collaboration ‘Ends Now’), ominous electro-rave (‘September’, ‘Colours’) and heartfelt sincerity. The latter pours out of the SBTRKT-reminiscent opener ‘Another Sketch’, which sees Silva showcase his falsetto over big hip-hop beats and swelling orchestral strings, conjuring a stirring beginning to the record that’ll draw you in from the very first listen.
As well as exhibiting his own individual creative talents, Silva makes full use of his packed contacts book across ‘Yesterday Is Heavy’. BADBADNOTGOOD bring the funk on the aptly-named ‘To The Floor’, while Little Dragon add their trademark flair to the shuffling ‘Be Cool’. Sampha, meanwhile, lends his ever-powerful vocals to the shapeshifting single ‘Backwards’ and album highlight ‘Still’, a slick collaboration that features a typically enchanting verse from the ever-ascending Ghetts (“I don’t need an analyst to tell me I’m an anarchist / I just need some love, hug and a kiss”).
Lil Silva more than gets by with a little help from his friends, though: ‘Yesterday Is Heavy’ is a bold and inventive step forward from an artist who has been threatening to make this kind of artistic statement for some time. Sometimes, good things really do come to those who wait.
Release date: July 15
Record label: Nowhere Music