It’s seven in the morning and I’m woken up by the pounding of rain on my window. Panicking briefly that I’d left my car windows rolled down, I remind myself that I do not have a car here and I am not, in fact, still in high school. After this minor disruption in my heart rate, I soothe myself with the repetitive patter against my window and the sporadic flashes of light that illuminate my messy room. The beating of the raindrops is continuous and takes root inside my mind to make sure that I won’t get any more sleep tonight. And Jeremy Loops does the same. His use of new musical techniques and limited instruments create music that will linger long after it has stopped playing. Rain has always been associated with reflection, just like Loops’ lyrics on life, love and simplicity will make you think.

Jeremy Loops, originally from Cape Town, South Africa, is a modern folk singer and environmental activist. Speaking out for awareness through both his organization Greenpop and his lyrics, he seeks to battle deforestation and travels around Southern Africa teaching underprivileged schoolchildren how to better protect their planet. His important ecological advocacy follows the similar messages he portrays in his music, combining traditional folk instruments with contemporary lyrics.

In 2014, Loops debuted at #1 on iTunes in South Africa and recently released his first full-length album Trading Change in August 2015. Since this recent claim to fame, he has begun touring alongside Twenty One Pilots in Europe.

Trading Change’s opening track, “Sinner,” is characterized by a quick banjo and gravely vocals, with lyrics that create a feeling of community around the idea that humanity is full of sinners. Loops displays his vocal range right off the bat, looping his own voice and instruments to create interesting and original layers of sound.

“Down South” was the first song from Loops I heard and the layered opening a cappella drew me in like a moth to a flame. Transforming into a full band sound while still maintaining a sense of simplicity is a talent I have only found in Loops. The lyrics, “Remember how we say / Someday we’ll set sail / It took me so much to get where we are,” dream of looking ahead to the future and still pleading for stagnancy in the present.

Combining all of these elements, “Trip Fox” utilized snaps, more banjos, strangely syncopated lyrics and dueling harmonicas. “Tell me you’re living free / Tell me we can do it again” reiterates the same themes of being content where you are while dreaming of a place far away. Brandishing a wicked banjo solo (trust me, that feels just as strange to write as it does to read), “Trip Fox” transcends the label of “modern folk” and becomes simply amazing music.

“Running Away” showcases Loops’ versatility as an artist as he gets in touch with his rock roots, yet retains an aggressive harmonica in place of a bass line. As the title suggests, the song glorifies escaping from all responsibilities and taking to a life on the road, a sentiment that most of us can echo.

I may not be in high school anymore, I may not have a car and I may not always be ready to move on from the past, but Jeremy Loops makes the future look pretty enticing.

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