For his second full-length, the now-LA based serpentwithfeet has opted for adoration over heartbreak, delivered with a beautiful simplicity that mirrors the largely uncomplicated love that runs throughout the album’s spiritual R&B. It’s a vast, and perhaps deliberate, contradiction to the harsh realities that face many people of colour in the LGBT+ community, instead through ‘DEACON’ celebrating the fundamental clarity of love once external oppressions are removed. The result is an unfiltered ode to relationships; emotional, physical and spiritual. Raised in religious spaces, the aptly titled ‘DEACON’ is filled with gospel flourishes – from the choir vocals on lead single and album closer ‘Fellowship’ to the hymnal ‘Dawn’ interlude. This spirituality bleeds into serpent’s exploration of the human form, and the intricacies of individuality.
At odds with stereotypes and outdated expectations, he plays with notions of masculinity, vulnerability and sexuality, often simultaneously. “He never played football, but look at how he holds me,” he sings on ‘Hyacinth. “He never needed silverware, but I’m his little spoon. ‘DEACON’ confidently celebrates love in all its spiritual glory, with an unwavering focus on the good. In his sweetest moments, serpentwithfeet’s joy is palpable, paired with an unwavering sensuality that underpins each of the album’s eleven tracks. There’s bravery in its openness, and in his ability to be at once disarmingly vulnerable and self-assured. As the world continues to wrestle with the individual freedoms of the Black, LGBT+ and combined communities, ‘DEACON’ looks for hope in love, much like in the spirituality that birthed it.
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Manifesting the calm energy of its title, ‘DEACON’ finds serpentwithfeet vocalising the intricacies of Black gay love with a tender new touch.