Puma Blue’s latest track "Velvet Leaves" captured the raw emotion and intensely intimate nocturnal soul that has made him one to watch since he first emerged with ‘Want Me’ in 2017. At home in the U.K. the track was premiered by Jamz Supernova at 1Xtraand soon earned further plays at BBC Radio 1 courtesy of Phil Taggart and Huw Stephens. It provided the perfect introduction to his eagerly anticipated debut album In Praise of the Shadows, which follows on January 29th via Blue Flowers.
Today Puma Blue, real name Jacob Allen, adds to the anticipation by sharing new track "Snowflower." It sets his vocals - twisted and contorted beyond recognition - to a warm but understated string arrangement, which is structured around a stark looped beat that becomes increasingly hypnotic. Lyrically it offers a melancholic take on the album’s overarching theme, a contemplation of “the painful things you have to heal from or accept, that bring you through to a better place”
The recording features contributions from Bon Iver and Big Thief producer Andrew Sarlo, and a sample from French musique concrète pioneer Pierre Henry's "Catherine Malade."
Watch "Snowflower" here: https://youtu.be/TkWlbTLA2IM
“‘Snowflower' was a beat I made that sat on my laptop for ages. I was originally trying to give it to another artist who I thought could be perfect for it. For some cosmic reason they didn’t vibe with it or maybe forgot about it.
Instead I sat down one evening feeling strangely full of new life for it, and just sang the whole verse in one take improvising with stuff from my phone notes, and that’s the take I used. I remember feeling self-conscious about my raw voice, so I ran it through loads of filters until I got this warped vocoder sound. Even then, until Andrew [Sarlo] lent some special little moments and Harvey [Grant] wrote the spellbinding string arrangement, I wasn’t sure if the sentiment landed.
The lyrics are about acknowledging being hurt in the past, but also the regret of causing hurt too. It’s sort of a poem about purity, and mourning your loss of innocence, as well as seeing beauty in love that didn’t work out. ”
"Snowflower" is accompanied by a minimalist visual which underlines the song’s innate sensitivity. Jacob is shown laying on his bed as golden flower leaves drift down upon him. It’s left up to the viewer to interpret its meaning. As Jacob adds: “The song has more of a poetic form than a song structure, so I wanted the video to feel that way too.”
Both "Snowflower" and "Velvet Leaves" are indicative of the new maturity and lucidity to the way in which Allen deals with his demons and celebrates beauty across his debut album. A blossoming romance has informed his evolving songcraft and helped him to conquer his insomnia. Meanwhile, his burgeoning career has forced the previously bedroom-bound songwriter out into the open, driving him to find new perspectives on loss, love and everything in-between.
In Praise of Shadows is now available to pre-order from here, with "Snowflower" and "Velvet Leaves" provided as instant downloads.