Sensual reflection are two words that feel entirely out of place next to one another, but one listen to Sylo’s new EP, “blanket,” and I imagine you’ll find yourself at the same oxymoronic crossroads I’ve found myself at. Over gentle guitars and muted kicks, the sultry vocals carry you intimately through the seven-track record, as he sings about the pains and pleasures of love through uncertainty.
He pens a letter to his lover on “Drop a Pin,” almost asking for permission to feel lost and anxious, while simultaneously requesting their company. Sylo explains that “[he] wrote this at the height of the lockdown, when it felt like the walls were closing in around [him],” but the instrumentation and production on the track feel calming and grounding, which perhaps aptly reflects the influence of the saviours he cited: meditation and his lover. The track lulls you into a warm dream state, in which you can’t help but feel safe, as though in a lover’s arms. This directly contrasting the apocalyptic imagery he writes in the chorus, singing, “Watching the walls around us collapsing / Breathe in the smoke, It’s like melatonin.” In the dichotomy, Sylo expertly conveys the way in which his anxieties and the remedies danced around one another during that tumultuous pandemic period.
The alternative-R&B virtuoso goes on to detail the subtle stress that amounts from being stuck in a relationship that you know you need to get out of on “AIR.” There’s an immense level of vulnerability that shines through as he expresses the struggles of wanting the relationship to work while knowing it ultimately won’t survive. Sylo demonstrates major self-awareness, and shows the fruit of an undeniable level of reflection and thought on this relationship as he points out its cracks and growing faults, then pointing out how they’ve acclimated to a mundane routine that lacks excitement or joy.
“Ginny”, “October” and “What’s Left?” run in a very different vein. Though they still shed light on Sylo’s feelings of anxiety, you’ll find gratitude for his lover center stage. It’s evident that this being is one he feels he can rely on and turn to for comfort in shaky or fearful moments.
Throughout the record, Sylo’s delicately crafted instrumentation and thoughtful production offer sensations that mirror that of the lyrical content. Suspended chords run in descending circles that sound the way panic feels, until they resolve and leave you feeling centered and sure-footed. The acoustic guitar and drum kit are sewn through effortlessly and serve as the consistent heartbeat of the EP, as he opens up and offers up an intimate look into his thoughts and emotions (remember that sensual reflection I mentioned?).
The skill that Sylo exhibits on this record in unguarded songwriting, thoughtful composition, and polished performance only serve to further cement him as a master of alternative-R&B and an artist-to-watch this year. When this is the first long-form work he has to offer, one can only wonder what could possibly follow.
Stream “blanket” on Spotify below, or find it on any streaming platform now, and check out the self-produced documentary Sylo created about his process of creating.