‘Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.’ Lewis Carroll, Alice In Wonderland. On Little Simz’ sophomore album ‘Stillness in Wonderland,’ the London emcee tackles themes of escapism, individuality, trust issues and loneliness in a world full of anger.
The concept for this project derives from Lewis Carroll’s iconic 1865 novel ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ Trying to balance dreams from reality is one of the primary struggles faced by Little Simz, who from the first track ‘LMPD’ makes it clear what the tone of the album is lyrically. “The people that are meant to be protecting us are killing us” she proclaims on the opening track, giving a very unsettling image of the world she is living in.
This fear and distrust can be found in her relationships with her peers, as she states “I don’t trust anyone apart from who I came with” on ‘Doorways + Trust Issues.’ Moreso, it finds Little Simz in somewhat of a dichotomy, as while she has a clear vision and goal to achieve, by digging deeper into the rabbit hole of her ‘wonderland,’ she is losing touch with where her home is- “I don’t belong anywhere, not even my own town.” This lyric can either be interpreted as her feeling completely lost, travelling further adrift into the unknown, or her feeling a sense of complete freedom.
Even the album title is interesting. ‘Stillness In Wonderland’ suggests that by escaping reality to go to the wonderland, we become static, directionless. And while wonderland can be perceived as wonderful, as Little Simz states on ‘Picture Perfect’ (“Wonderland is amazing, ain’t it? Never ever want to leave, let me stay lit”) there is nothing for her there. She sings “I don’t want to be in this wonderland no more” on the closing track ‘No More Wonderland,’ acknowledging that the only way to progress is to achieve it in the real world, where imperfections exist and tragedy exists.
Musically Little Simz has shown growth and maturity. The album is rich in texture, with smooth guitar leads, groovy basslines, wailing saxophones. The organic feeling of the album makes it sound like a well-mastered live album. It’s an incredibly well-arranged, with the neo-soul and jazz backdrop making it a lively, interesting and diverse listening experience. Little Simz’s creativity really shone through on this project, making her one of the most exciting artists in music right now.