PUMA BLUE ‘In Praise of Shadows’


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For nigh on a decade, Puma Blue – aka Jacob Allen – was trying to live a life plagued by insomnia. He says that the affliction resulted in barely a couple hours of sleep at night, and in a recent interview, adds that it was “compounding a depression”, his woozy music reflecting that period of restlessness. He credits a new partner for lifting the fog and bringing him out of the state; the songs on this debut album reflect that breakthrough.

His songwriting has always been evocative, in spite of the struggles. Since the release of his debut single ‘Want Me’ in 2017, and EPs ‘Swum Baby’ and ‘Blood Loss’, the monstrous streaming numbers and sell-out shows came naturally. A genre-defying sound – shades of King Krule, Mac Miller and James Blake – helped create a hazy dreamland for listeners to get lost in.  He shifts between minimalist production and complex layers of sound: twinkling guitar and woozy synths compliment the hip-hop beats and soulful melodies. Most notably on ‘Velvet Leaves’, where jazz-inflected drums and hip-hop beats mesh subtly, allowing his tender vocals – on which he ruminates on a sibling’s suicide attempt – to cut through the haze: “gotta stay strong for the little one / who found you in your room”.