I know that most artist profile blogs usually end with the classic “you’re not going to want to miss what this artist has in store” and start it with a good ol’ “you’re not going to believe the talent I have just stumbled upon”. Insert a couple of paragraphs revolving around the artist’s sound and ultra-creative capabilities, you’ve got a decent artist profile blog! I’ll warn you right off the top, this one isn’t going to be much different. But don’t skim through this shit, because I swear to you, I believe every word I’ve written about the unbridled talent that is Lonely Boy.
Ottawa’s R&B/soul scene is one that I have not dived deep into, most of my experience is comparable to a quick doggy paddle around then back to shore. This isn’t because I think the scene here is bad, I’m just not the biggest fan of R&B these days.
My problem is that I love the themes from the now classic era that spanned from 2000-2007. This era took the storytelling and soul elements from R&B music that was made before the new millennium and breathed new life into it. You know, the real roots to this beautiful genre. However, during this era the storytelling side shone through, but the genre kept on brand with the current state of the music world and was influenced heavily by pop music blends and commercialism. After 2000, it was hard to find R&B music that told a story as well as ripped apart your heart, cuz that’s what you want obviously. (D’Angelo, Ne-Yo, Chris Brown, Destiny’s Child, Alicia Keys).
The era of R&B we are experiencing now combines the other aspects of the R&B genre. I feel as if now we’re seeing a resurgence of the soul elements but have lost that storytelling feel to most of it. Perhaps this too has been influenced by the current state of music, which is much more algorithmically and still incredibly commercially driven. Stories and messages now seem to centre around losing your chick and straight up sex and are delivered in the same breathy, steamy, sing-songy manner, with infrequent flashes of true vocal talent. Or maybe I’m just a hater, who knows. (Ty Dolla $ign, Jeremih, Kehlani, PartyNextDoor)
Lonleyboy in studio
I apologize for that long winded intro, but I promise it was incredibly necessary in setting up these next couple paragraphs on explaining my newest favourite R&B artist, Ottawa’s very own Lonely Boy. The fusion of his sound pairs all aspects of the R&B genre together so perfectly. The way he blends storytelling with his powerful vocals is refreshing. Somehow, he has left the annoying pop and the sexy, hot and heavy vibes in the past. I say somehow because he did this subconsciously almost. When I asked him about it, he credited both eras as influences but admitted he takes the best of both and leaves the worst when creating on his own without thinking about it. I had the chance to sit down with him earlier this year and I’d like to spend the next little bit talking about his newest project.
The only issue is that Lonely Boy only has one tape out that spans three songs and lasts a mere nine minutes. Bit of a fucking tease if I must say so myself. ‘Lonely Ppl Vol. 1’ is the first installment of a multi-tape series that he couldn’t speak much more on. This tape though is the perfect peep hole into who he is as an artist.
During the intro of the first track, October, you can hear a voicemail where he tells the recipient that he’ll be over whether he answers or not. The tape rolls over background melodies that accentuates the beautiful toxicity of the call, kind of like a vase full of dead roses. Lonely Boy described the situation as a “real life R&B moment”. The song goes on and he brings you into his world of soft beats and pain caused by someone else.
‘Only One Night’ is the follow up track. The song is a continuation of the last and speaks of the all too familiar relapse when trying to leave a relationship. This track highlights his incredible vocal range a little more than the prior track, drawing you into a soundscape full of peaks and valleys. This is the only track with a video as well, so if there is anything left to your imagination go check it out and there won’t be for much longer.
The final song is my personal favourite. Sussex Drive is the climax of this story of a broken heart. This one feels different though, his voice feels lofty. As if he has the windows down while cruising down the scenic street here in the nation’s capital. Almost as if it’s the crescendo to a story that didn’t seem like it was going to have an ending at all, let alone a happy one. It reminds me of him walking away from an explosion with a smile on his face, sunglasses on, and a bottle of liquor in hand.
Lonely Boy is a multifaceted artist who won’t stop bending the rules to his craft. He also can’t stop blending all his multimedia and artistic talents into one of the most intriguing artists coming out of the city right now. His early career as a personal stylist ended because he was too hungry, as he set out to overtake the artists he was dressing. When his relationship ended, he holed himself up and put the pen to paper and came out of it with heart wrenching exposé style songs about himself that could induce tears. He honed in on his craft so tightly that now his voice can make hair stand on its end (go to 00:59 on Sussex Drive to see what I mean).
All in all he has packaged R&B in a way that you have to love. The emotion, the stories, and the talent come together to make one of the most complete acts I have heard when it comes to the R&B realm. His insightful look at relationships and life, paired perfectly with his toxic mannerisms to make tracks that make you want to either key your ex’s car or win them back from their front lawn. It’s confusing but it’s beautiful, that’s the best I can put it. Go check him out to see for yourself.
Written by: John Balser