Bloom, the latest EP from UK R&B songstress Laolu is a captivating blend of moody atmospheres and sonic charm. With a thought-provoking theme, it invites listeners to reflect, heal, and undergo a transformative experience.
“Bloom,” says Laolu, “is like going through the stages of grief, where you have to accept – this is what it is. Each song is a step in that journey. It’s the steps to blooming. It’s you accepting, understanding, relaxing and then just going forward.”
Bloom was recorded during the 2020 lockdown. Its upbeat opener is The Man. Containing a sexy bassline, and crowned by electric guitar, The Man showcases Laolu’s gorgeous signature velvety vocals, introducing us perfectly to what is a stunning work.
“In The Man,” says Laolu, “‘the man’ represents – if it is a relationship that’s broken down, then it’s a relationship. When I perform the song, I’m like, this could be about a broken-down friendship, a broken-down work relationship, where you know you need to leave that job because it no longer serves you.”
A richly layered track, “Mile Away”, the second track on the EP unfolds with a deliberate gentleness, coaxing the listener out of a corner. Suddenly, it springs to life with a punchy bass, showcasing a gorgeous arrangement where Laolu’s vocals and ethereal harmonies gracefully cascade between each other.
Mile Away is Bloom’s most streamed song on Spotify, with already well over 11,000 streams. It likely came as little surprise to Laolu and her team that Mile Away would be the breakout star of the EP.
“That was the favourite. It was the turning point in the camp. I just remember we listened to it, and we were just like, ‘Oh, wait, what? This song is amazing.’ Yeah, Mile Away is that girl. And will always be that girl.”
“Walking on Water” is next. It’s a superb track, which Laolu refers to as the “manifestation song”. It opens with the calming sound of the ocean. Gradually, a sensuous bassline enters, which combines perfectly with Laolu’s delicate ad-libs and harmonies.
“Walking on water is literally like: OK, I’ve let go, I’ve taken that step for myself; now I’m shedding everything that I need to unlearn, that doesn’t need to be a part of me so that when I go to the next stage, I can be carefree, and that’s where Not for Me comes in.”
“Not For Me” follows on from Walking on Water, symbolizing the next step after emerging from the water, where all restrictions vanish. The song begins with lots of reverb and a strong low-pass filter, like you’re submerged beneath water. Gradually the high end is brought bringing you to the surface. It features backing vocals from executive producer of Bloom J. Warner.
“With Not For Me, what I literally envisioned was someone running through a field of sunflowers or daisies. The first line is ‘Now that I’m free’ – I’m free from the past, I’m free from anything that was holding me back. Now I’m free and I’m at the outside. I’ve reached the other end of the mile. I’ve shed everything. Whatever comes my way is not gonna have the same effect it would have had on me if I was still in the place in the beginning with the old patterns.”
Closing out the EP, “Show Up” is a synth-filled, atmospheric tune that highlights the beauty and vulnerability inherent in Laolu’s vocals. It’s the first track on the EP to feature accompanying visuals, which beautifully honour both the overarching theme of the EP and the sentiment conveyed in the song.
“Show Up is literally a letter to myself, to remind myself: stay true to yourself, remember to honour yourself. If something is no longer good for you, show up for yourself and focus on what is gonna help you to continuously move forward.”
This work firmly establishes Laolu as one to watch in the realm of UK R&B, breathing new life into the genre without conforming to what is expected.