Son Little (a play on an old nickname, Little Son) released his self-titled album this year, bringing a fresh take on the combination of R&B and soul, the latter prompting Leon Bridges comparisons. “Lay Down” is one of those songs, conjuring up images of a hazy, muggy summer day with the occasional the crisp breeze blowing a field of meadow grass. The album holds harmonizing, layered voices next to crisp hi-hats and looped synths. He’s been covered in the likes of The New Yorker and The Boston Globe, not to mention his television debut, which he accidentally slept through.

We got the chance to hear Son Little talk dream collaborations, the meaning behind “The River” and future plans before his gig at the Middle East on November 11.

K: Could you describe your music without using genre names? For example, local act Tall Heights replied “canyon,” The Kooks described their latest sound as “percussion sonnets.” You can use as many words as you’d like.

Futurist Talking Drum.

K: A lot of publications like to mention you’re “literally a son of a preacher.” How do you think your upbringing affected your current sound or music taste?

My dad is a preacher who loves R&B and jazz, so I guess I speak to a congregation in the language of music.

K: What records were you listening to while writing this album? Did you draw inspiration from any of those records?

I listened to Paul McCartney’s Ram a bunch. Also Good Kid, M.A.A.D City by Kendrick Lamar, Grizzly Bear’s Shields and Little Dragon’s Ritual Union. All those records really inspire me but I don’t think affected the sound too much, because I like to just sound like me.

K: Would you say you prefer to write, rather than perform? You’ve spoken about your frustration with not being able to stop and process the ideas you come up with while on tour.

I enjoy writing and performing equally. They are completely different disciplines. But it can be frustrating to have ideas and not be able to preserve them. I think I do a pretty good job of letting ideas develop on their own time.

K: Rivers seem to be a common subject in songs– what’s the story behind “The River” and why did you include the action of walking to the river in the chorus?

A river is a picturesque metaphor for lots of things, but in this case it represents a constant longing for someone or something.

K: Will you be continuing your solo career? What’s next?

I’m pretty busy until April, but really looking forward to making another record. For now though, I’ll be doing shows all over the place.

K: You’ve collaborated with some big names like Mavis Staples, The Roots, and RJD2. Who has been your favorite artist to collaborate with? Who would you like to collaborate with in the future?

Mavis is just a lovely soul. She’s one of my favorite people, let alone favorite singer. I’d love to collaborate with Flying Lotus and Feist.

K: Some of your songs are rather simple and sparse. How do you determine when you’ve added enough layers and sounds to a song?

I just try my best to keep out of my own way, and when things start to sound worse, I stop.

You can catch Son Little perform with local act The Novel Ideas tonight at The Middle East.

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