Jeremy Loops describes himself as a modern folk musician, but a single genre is a little limiting for this artist, who hails from South Africa. His debut album Trading Change borrows from his previously released work on singles and EPs, but he has reworked so much of his material it feels entirely brand new.
Though the first word that comes to mind when you hear his music is inevitably folk, he’s an all-genre-encompassing artist, with strong undertones of jazz, reggae, blues, and hip-hop – there really is a little of everything in Trading Change. Yet he isn’t without direction. A risk in including so many aspects and dimensions to a single album could be a sense of wandering, of someone who hasn’t found their place yet – not so with Loops. Every piece comes across entirely self-assured, and the quality smacks of an artist with years more experience than Loops boasts.
As his moniker suggests he is a liberal user of looping – yet he’s never layer greedy, there isn’t a track that would be better or even as good with fewer loops and layers – he’s not trying to say something extra with every layer, it’s all part of the story.
Loops is a very global artist, with a distinct South African sound that travels to Americana, hot-blooded South America, and even dabbles a little in Eastern-Euro folk.
‘Happy’ is a basic word, but completely sums up the album. It is irresistibly upbeat and cheerful – even the ‘down’ tracks are positive, and frankly it’s a breath of fresh air amid the depressingly introspective state music often finds itself in – even songs like Lonesome and Blue which might pigeonhole itself in name is a number to put a smile on your face.
Loops is an artist who would be perfectly at home in a tiny dive, a packed arena, or a festival stage – his talent and sound transcends venue typecasting. And yet Trading Change has a uniquely intimate vibe, no matter the size of the crowd or venue, it’s just you and the tunes. It’s a transporting album. A track like See What I Wrote You instantly takes you to a beach shack bar, while The Gypsy Opera has you in a dark and smoky lounge.
At sixteen tracks, it’s difficult to choose a stand-out number – it’s not that they roll together, it’s that there are genuinely so many phenomenal tracks on a single record, though honourable mentions go to Sinner as the opening number, plus Down South the first single of the album. There are a few tracks featuring guest artist collaborations, including South African rapper Motheo Moleko who adds yet another dimension to an already stellar lineup of musicianship. It’s an album you can easily pick and choose numbers from, yet works so wholly as a full record, and you can just keep discovering something new in each track with subsequent play throughs.
Most tracks open very simply, growing bigger and fuller as the lyrics progress, before bursting into the full fidelity of the song. Each added loop and layer really fills out the songs, and altogether it’s quite the spectacle. The album is entirely loveable, a record that inspires joy and soul.
Trading Change is out February 26, grab it here.