serpentwithfeet DEACON Secretly Canadian
serpentwithfeet’s music has long been coloured by his soft-hearted poeticism, to a point where even the smallest detail can evoke visceral emotion from the listener. On DEACON, the Brooklyn-based musician’s gift has only matured, exploring the fullness of Black queer love through deeply personal lyrics, airy harmonies and layered instrumentation.
With this second album, serpentwithfeet continues to build on his avant-garde R&B world. The NAO-assisted Heart Storm swells with ominous drum breaks and tiered vocal riffs that never quite reach breaking point; Wood Boy maintains the same tense energy with undulating bass synths and a murky non-chorus that seemingly disappears into the night. Elsewhere, Timedance founder and producer Batu brightens the mood on Same Size Shoe, an endearing, slow-moving R&B pop song that treads along with an insouciant charm.
But it’s serpentwithfeet’s ability to embellish songs with earnest storytelling that continues to be his best musical asset. Lead single and album closer Fellowship – a song co-written and co-produced with Sampha and Lil Silva – embraces the simple intimacy of friendship, remembering the little things that make platonic love so life-affirming. “Our fascination with Prosecco/ The silly face you make when I say hello” he sings over a crisp, hopeful beat, while the refrain of “I’m thankful for the love I share with my friends” makes for the most touching moment on the album. In creating a narrative that centres tenderness, DEACON is a paean to the expansive nature of queer love and carves out a sonic sanctuary nothing short of divine.