By the time singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Aaron Earl Livingston released his first full-length album as Son Little in 2015, he’d already worked with genre-bending artists such as the Roots and RJD2 and produced the 2015 Mavis Staples EP Your Good Fortune (he also wrote its first two tracks). In keeping with the musical openness of those collaborators, Little’s own material incorporates influences from a wide variety of eras and styles, including blues, 50s and 60s R&B, hip-hop, heavy psych, and art-pop. If you adore listening to music on shuffle or flipping through the records in a vintage jukebox, you may hear a kindred spirit in Son Little—and as disparate as his sounds can feel, they always hang together like a carefully curated playlist. Little brings that approach to his latest album, the September release Like Neptune (Anti-). Its songs are informed by a mountain of journals from his youth that he discovered during pandemic lockdown and reread searching for the roots of his long-term depression and anxiety, and his lyrics are intimate and personal even when the music could fuel a party (such as on funky opener “Drummer” or soulful banger “Stoned Love”). But the record’s emotional resonance and atmosphere of self-reflection mean that many of its most interesting moments are also its quietest, including the haunting, sepia-tone “Deeper” and the stunningly reverential “Gloria,” which features one of Little’s most moving vocal performances yet.
Son Little Lizzie No opens. Fri 12/9, 8 PM, Chop Shop, 2033 W. North, $25.25, 18+