Local Healers offer up a brand of lyrical consciousness that’s candid and cerebral on new EP.
Words: Adam Davidson | photo: Paul Dixon
Local Healers know the struggle of being an artist in pandemic-era Britain. They know about being ignored and pushed back, as the heart of the creative community gets slowly drained, a steady decline brought on by financial collapse, venue closures and cuts. Bringing a brand of lyrical consciousness that’s candid and cerebral, the Nottingham duo are joined in the studio by local legend Louis Cypher and Antwerp-based beatsmith Faux Sala. Together they combined forces to create Paintings On The Wall – an EP of chilled musical vibes, contrasting the raw lyrical themes contained within.
Renaissance has the classic golden era sheen that most of you reading this will have grown up with. It’s the lead single, and the best song on the EP. The downbeat tempo, the muffled guitar loop, the four-sentence group chorus. These are all key elements of what Local Healers are about – old school, relaxed moods. But they aren’t here purely for nostalgia. On Renaissance, they describe art as a dying form, one that needs to be kept alive at all costs. They take turns to jump in and out of the spotlight, delivering a couple of lines at a time and repeatedly ask “What’s it worth – auctioning your soul?” Renaissance is triumphant and proud. It’s about protecting something beautiful, before it goes away forever.
Paintings On The Wall carries on in much the same way. Pavement Cracks is reflective, not necessarily decrying the partying after-hours side of being a musician, but not saying it’s all that great either. With lines about drinking too much and having people over until 6am, Pavement Cracks describes the ambivalence and vague futility of day-to-day life when you can’t make plans past next month. It’s got a small hours jazz feel, like the first tune you put on after getting home from a big night. The boys are more than comfortable on tracks like this, with acres of space afforded to them by the economic musical backing.
A key theme on Paintings On The Wall is of self-love, and healing through growth. This is explicit on Water For Flowers. It’s a mature, self-aware set of verses that promotes healthy living, learning through experience, and cultivating good relationships with the people that matter most. The boys talk of their own life lessons, and offer advice on self care. It’s easily one of the highlights of the EP. The last few lines of the 2nd verse are particularly sweet – “I recommend – Buy some plants, put them on your shelves; every time you water them, you look after yourself. It takes time and effort, sunshine for better days, open up flowerbud, you’ll be amazed.”
Paintings On The Wall is lifted by Faux Sala’s consistently crafted beats. Each song has an unpretentious simplicity which never smothers the vocals. This means all three rappers on this project get generous airtime, and are prominent when they speak their truth. Aided by crisp, uncluttered production, this element of the sound on Paintings On The Wall cannot be understated – it’s what sets this EP apart from the sea of average rap records out there.
Ending with the super-easy Let Go, a melancholic song about moving on from tough times, Paintings On The Wall comes in for a smooth landing after half an hour of heady hip-hop purity. The music industry in the UK has taken a lot of heavy blows recently, and while Local Healers are bringing attention to that, they do it in an understated way. There’s more to life than the grey future laid out in front of us. Paintings On The Wall is a statement about how desperate and awful an existence without art would be. But it’s also a wholesome piece of work which, rather than angrily lashing out at the situation, offers gentle comfort. That’s something we all need a bit of in this day and age. The EP is out now on I’m Not From Brooklyn Records and available to buy on Bandcamp.