The debut album of Manchester-based composer and musician loz feels fresh and sounds impeccable, cementing his status as an artist to watch out for in the future.
With Simple Tenderness revolves around optimistic piano melodies, thought-provoking vocals and mesmerising synth riffs. They blend effortlessly together throughout this thirteen-track soundscape to evoke a feeling of gentle affection and warmth – of tenderness.
At points in this record, I found myself drifting off into a whirlpool of introspection.
However, I was never lost for long before loz brought me back to reality with pulsating beats, which morph from breakbeat into house, DnB and garage. The end result is something with the power to uplift, soothe and provoke. It is multifunctional yet sentimental, conceptually simple yet technically complex, hopeful yet melancholic. For an electronically-produced album, With Simple Tenderness feels anything but artificial.
A resonating, high-pitched piano riff introduces us to the title track. Pressure builds through the immersive but softly-played notes, complemented by reverberating synths. The trepidation subsides within a minute of the track, when breaks explode and punctuate our ambient cocoon. Listening to this track felt like the moments before a reunion with an old friend; an unwavering sense of optimism, intermingled with the odd pang of anxiety, which melts away as soon as you see them.
loz carries us through the second and third tracks ‘Potomac’ and ‘So Beautiful’ seamlessly. The familiar piano melodies and staple synths harmonised beautifully with rhythmic house and breakbeat grooves. These continuities blur the lines between songs, which, alongside the hypnotic instrumentals and polyphonic vocals, make our journey through the album feel like a fuzzy dreamworld.
That said, With Simple Tenderness at no point induces drowsiness. loz’s expert ability to build and release tension is a constant source of captivation. A case in point is ‘Forgive Me Love’, the album’s fourth track which crescendos in an avalanche of Tame Impala-esque synths and broken beat. Another is ‘The Way I Feel’ with its punchy bassline, which pierces the simple piano chords and undulating pitch-shifting vocals. If these head-boppers inexplicably fail to grab your attention, look no further than ‘Out of My Way’. The track wades into the ecstasy-imbued waters of DnB. In our rave-free Covid-culture, these tracks are more than a suitable replacement.
loz delves into a contemplative tone in the second half of the record. The progression from the optimistic grooves of the first half, to the slightly moodier ambience of the second, feels unforced. Heavier, bass-driven sounds like those of the rolling Korg synthesiser found in ‘Epilogue’ and throbbing bassline in ‘Glaciers’ contribute to a sense of nostalgia and melancholy. loz’ own voice leads us into this new reality in ‘Froze’. Phrases like ‘I’m sold, you don’t have to convince me’ signal this change in tone. From the blissful ignorance of part one to sullen wisdom. Accompanying the slower BPM and bassy instrumentals, of course, are the trademark piano melodies which serve as excellent counterpoints, keeping a buoyant air in the final few tracks.
The core sounds characterising this album disappear in the outro, ‘The Deserter’. Instead, a solitary whistler and enveloping ambience lead us into a brooding silence. This atmopheric yet uneventful finish is loz’ way of showing us that he has nothing to prove.
Behind loz lies a litany of talents. At once he is a singer, songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer. For loz, this album was the next logical step. Indeed, some of the tracks have been awaiting release for four years! With Simple Tenderness sheds light on love, but the quality of its contents speaks even greater volumes about its artist, and his lifelong romance with music.
You can listen to With Simple Tenderness on any streaming platform here.