One of the most instantly heartwarming artists I’ve come across in awhile is UK folk songwriter L.A. Salami.
My TST editor passed along a mystery package to my inbox yesterday with the odd, short message “not sure who this is” that was the extent of text in the message. I got past my seconds-long suspicion of downloading a virus on my work laptop and unwrapped the mystery package. My fears were abated when I discovered music files, but excitement of the unknown was still strong, because the file contained two songs with only their names: no performer, band, artwork or label provided.
I clicked the title “Jianni’s From Australia (She’ll Get By)” with total uncertainty what was coming. I’ll be damned if the voice didn’t stop me in my tracks and require my full attention. It was British for sure – a British folk songwriter. And within seconds my mind was flooded with comparisons to some of my favorite folk songwriters of all time – Paul Simon, Nick Drake and, yes, Dylan. Kids of the ’80s (as I am) and ’90s either adore Bob Dylan or have zero use for him. I’m shamelessly, wholeheartedly in the former camp. I spent entire years listening to Dylan and The Beatles following their output chronologically, obsessing. I know I’m not unique in that respect. There are many, many music lovers, idealists and old-soul youth who have done the same. It’s a rite of passage for some of us; it’s a passage some of us choose to reside in to further influence the remainder of life for others.
This confident, strikingly poignant and pretty male British folk voice had me hooked, and clearly was coming from the same broken-in loves and outlook as me.
It’s astounding when you can piece thoughts like that together within a minute of hearing a new band or artist for the first time, and you do it helplessly where your ears are consciously listening and your mind’s running sprints subconsciously. I Googled “Jianni’s From Australia (She’ll Get By)” and returned with hits for something called LA Salami. I clicked the home page and discovered L.A. Salami. He looks strikingly like an early ’60s Greenwich Village Mos Def. His site photos are shots of him (black-and-white for greatest effect) strolling perpetually overcast London looking effortlessly cool and debonair in a vintage beat demeanor, constantly decked out of oxfords, scarves, plaid and stylish jackets, with a poised, serious hint of a smile.
His name is Lookman Adekunle Salami, but you can call him L.A. He’s a young Brit, soul-stirring classic folkie, not in your local coffeehouse vein but in the classic coffeehouse way, like The Gaslight in the ’50s and ’60s. His first love was film (Speilberg and Godard) and his music poet heroes are Dylan (obviously), Leonard Cohen, Joanna Newsom, Ginsberg, Bukowsi and Shakespeare, to name a few.
If you’re inclined to the classics, particularly folk storytelling with flashes of brilliance and wit played against seemingly simple arrangements with strokes of pure artistry, give L.A. Salami a listen. If there is any part of you that has ever adored The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan or get gut-punched by each ballad on Blonde on Blonde, you’ll be thankful you’ve discovered L.A. Salami. Likewise, if, like me, you just can’t seem to get enough of The Tallest Man on Earth, take a chance on this man. I think you’ll be pleased to find Kristian Matsson is no longer the lone purveyor of timeless, powerful folk songs.
Check out: “Jianni’s From Australia (She’ll Get By)” and “We’ll Solve It After” by L.A. Salami
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