Electro pop has grown out of favour in the alternative scene, a gradual shift in tastes and convenience has seen us streaming less and less genre music with song classification adopting a more mood-based, representative format in which the listener assumes an active role in the process. Artists are responding and the result is a pick-and-mix bag of free-flowing, aesthetic-heavy individualism – with creativity at its heart. Style isn’t just assigned to genre anymore; image, lyric, sound and overall identity are elements built through continuity and disruption, the desire to reinvent and divert keeps energies fresh and turning. Look at Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, Halsey – each of these artists continually switch it up and always come out on top. Focussing on the new wave of voices coming through at the moment, we can’t help but be drawn in by up-and-comer, L. Norton.
Her style is very current but also borrows a little from the past, fusing 1990’s and 2000’s R&B with electronic influences and groove-heavy pop. A focussed blend; both head-turning and hook-laden, original and organic. Her debut EP, Skin transverses hypnotic, heady dance-pop with heart-on-sleeve lyricism. And it sounds incredible.
Opener and title track, ‘Skin‘ is fierce and stomping. The vocal leads the conversation yet doesn’t overpower the relationship between music and lyric. Each move is rhythmic and resonates with groove, L Norton’s writing style is clearly defined in sharp, embossed capitals. Her delivery is distinct, too. Stressing each lyric with purpose, poise and control, Norton doesn’t rely on stereotypical tropes, her style is her signature and expresses the intrinsic nature of her artistry.
‘Dealing‘ is the standout of the whole collection, with laser-tight production at its helm that feels both balmy (in the tropical sense) and industrial (in its use of underground rave aesthetic). The track is layered in a neat way, still simple and refined like most of L. Norton’s work yet loaded with meticulous detail. Listen closely. It’s a ‘lean in’ moment but that bass groove has other intentions, all bets are on that it will transport you to a smoke-dazed dancefloor no matter where you’re listening. The song itself covers very personal territory, as ‘Skin’ also indicates, told in a very relatable and open-ended way it’s sure to grab each listener on a deeper level as efficiently as it does when taken at face value.
The remaining two tracks equally offer different points of view, and further visibility of L. Norton’s influences and ever-diverse soundworld. ‘Wish I Didn’t Miss You‘ is a cover of the Angie Stone classic, renewed and revised as an interpretation true to Norton’s stylistic tone. This version is much darker and brooding, a ‘crying in the club’ anthem without the loss of any self-respect. It’s an acknowledgment of loss rather than a declaration of dependency. Epic and empowering. Completing the EP’s run is a remix of ‘Skin‘ by Fantastic Pleasure (a cosmic DJ-Art collective based in Kent), this reinterpretation is significantly more atmospheric and vibey than the studio version, here it focuses on L. Norton’s isolated vocal takes, turning the song into an abstraction of the original. A creative statement that capitalises the inventiveness of her intonation, and reveres her captivating credibility as a songwriter.
This is music that exists exactly in the right moment, for the artist and for its listener. Indeed, the culmination of Skin as an EP is far greater than a simple dose of good timing, L. Norton represents where music is at in 2019 – trailblazing creativity beyond class systems and demographics to deliver vital messages straight into the hands of the world’s population. And one more thing, music this good needs to be heard so stream it, support it and by all means, listen.
L. Norton’s new EP, Skin is out now on 27:28 Records.
Photo Credit: Charlotte May