dark & stormy soul: valentine’s edition
Someone told me once that the world is so much better when you fancy someone. Perhaps, but then some of these songs beg to differ. Valentines has become one of those events in the calendar these days, where the gods of commerce want us all to panic buy or face the FOMO. But can you panic buy a date? No, you cannot. So the next best thing is a cheesy card, or a saucy text - the possibility, the illusion of a date. Why bother? You’ll just end up feeling needy.
To many of us, Valentine’s just means not attempting to book a restaurant. Unless you want to be surrounded by young couples with the heads in their hands, as rose-sellers hover. Awkward. To more of us still, the day comes with a certain sense of heartbreak, regret perhaps. You might have just been dumped from a great height, or you might just be in need of a good cry at the state of the world and your place in it right now. That’s why Valentine’s could only mark the return of Dark & Stormy Soul.
Something really is going on with modern dark soul - there is such a rich vein of incredibly good songs. It’s the best modern popular music has to offer right now. Have you heard the Eliza album ‘A Real Romantic’? Now that is a proper Valentines record, and we could do no less than top & tail this playlist with two choice cuts from it. The opener here Wide Eyed Fool, sets the tone perfectly, but then listen on. Excited as we always will be by a new Dawn Richards record, there was one in January (oh January), and Jealousy might be the twisted love anthem every other Valentine’s playlist out there will sadly miss. Think it can’t get better? Well, it can get better, sadder, darker and deeper all at the same time.
King Princess is saddened by advances by just the wrong type (of species), while SOAK dwells on being so not interested in the latest beau, because she is “built from concrete and can hurt no more”. And then Arlo Parks just wants to be left to her own devices so get your Coca Cola eyes out of her face okay? “I loved you death, but now I don’t really care, ‘cause you’re running ‘round over there”. Now, that’s the Valentines spirit we admire. As if that isn’t enough, Mahalia chimes in, once she’s sobered up and done the sums, with the conclusion that one plus one really equals none. And turns out both Arla and Mahalia have been on the Bacardi, making the playlists title more than appropriate.
So yes, we go dark, pretty much from the beginning. But we’re in good company here. The Internet (the band dummy - whatever you do stay off the socials on Valentines), Jorja Smith, Empress Of, ROSALIA, Raveena, Poppy Ajudha, James Blake and Kelsey Lu - maybe a few of those names new to you. And because this is Dark & Stormy, we make room for just a few forgotten classics too - in this particular case from Erykah Badu, and none other than Deniece Williams. And ‘Smiling Faces Sometimes’ is there because it’s times like these you need to know of the existence of The Undisputed Truth.
You’re getting the idea. As ever with Dark & Stormy, we’re focused on the melancholy. If you don’t have a date this Valentine’s, don’t worry about it. We understand. That’s why we’ve put the work in on this one. Get some dark rum, ginger beer and a wedge of lime. Pour it all over a tall glass full of ice, and sit. Press play. There you go. Happy Valentines, you are worth it.
Playback notes: The playlist has been scheduled, so best played in order. But it really doesn’t matter that much.