Over the course of three EPs and two albums L.A. Salami has built up a loyal following around the world, with notable support at both US & UK radio from the likes of Bob Boilen and Lauren Laverne. His debut album, Dancing With Bad Grammar, was listed in NPR’s Top Ten Albums of 2016 alongside David Bowie, Bon Iver and Carseat Headrest.
His real name is Lookman-Adekunle Salami, and his peripatetic youth as a Nigerian-Muslim Brit was split between his biological mother and the foster parents that took him in around 60 days young. His swagger is a bohemian cool that comes from closets of vintage formalwear and days spent trying to satiate an existential appetite. His gravity is free-flowing, a product of a decades-long identity crisis and the solace of condemned libraries. It wasn’t until he was 21 that a friend gifted him his first guitar and a medium to translate his conjurations.
Lookman coins his oeuvre ‘post-modern blues’. At intervals it drifts somewhere near bluegrass and folk, country, punk, and maybe even rap at its wordiest. But for all the genre-fluidity, The City Of Bootmakers is first and foremost a playground for his songwriting. Salami’s lyricism is deceivingly easy to access despite his jaw-dropping diction. He at times wears his influences on his sleeve, but never in a way that defines him.
He owes as much to Dostoevsky and Nieztche as he does Dylan and Mitchell. His songs are written from a point of removal, a step beyond the jurisdiction of tangible consequence where all auxiliaries are peeled away such that all that remains is a skeletal system of logic.
There’s no advice or bias, and little choice. There’s fast food ideology. There’s a wavering confidence in your nation and, like it or not, a part of your identity. Alienation and detachment and an ocean of anxieties inherited in dystopia. There’s dead-eyed facts, and a pragmatic brink. And so it makes sense the prophetic and oft-frightening The City of Bootmakers is staggering in its scope. It’s a philosophical bent less concerned with panoramic answers, but in making sure there’s no questions left to ask.
––– Words, Thomas Johnson
L.A. Salami is represented by Paradigm Agency for America, Coda Agency for rest-of world.
L.A. Salami - The City Nowadays
L.A. Salami - When The Poet Sings (Burberry Acoustic)