Over the course of two EPs, two singles and a stripped-back live album, Puma Blue has established himself as one of the UK’s most vital new talents. Now comes the long awaited debut album In Praise of Shadows via Blue Flowers. In Praise of Shadows is a delirious dreamland of soulful vocals, D’Angelo-ish guitars and muted electronic beats. Its fourteen tracks are a contemplation on “the balance of light and dark, the painful things you have to heal from or accept, that bring you through to a better place” says the 25-year-old Puma Blue, real name Jacob Allen “It’s about finding light in darkness - and realising that it’s what got me here today.”
The album astonishing in its openness, from bittersweet reflections on past relationships - “I never learnt to cherish her” Jacob laments on Cherish (furs) - to pure love-laden soliloquies such as Already Falling or Sheets, one of the albums most personal moments, which borrows a sample from the score of Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and repurposes it as a lilting love-song that Allen describes as “like a really personal note that you’d leave in the house to be found when you’ve got to head out early.” Nowhere is that openness more apparent though than on lead single Velvet Leaves. Propelled by a crisp hip-hop beat and culminating in reverb-drenched wails reminiscent of one of Allen’s biggest influences, Jeff Buckley, the track explores an incident that still leaves him near panic attacks today.