Blending elements of acoustic blues, vintage soul, and conscious hip-hop into a mixture that's expressive yet deeply personal, Son Little is the alias of Aaron Livingston, a singer, instrumentalist, and songwriter who divides his time between his own music and collaborations with others. On his first album, 2015's Son Little, the music was a challenging mixture of soul and R&B grooves with a classic bent filtered through a production that mixed the elements like a hip-hop producer would assemble a beat. 2017's New Magic was recorded after Livingston toured the debut album with a live band, and he gave the material a more natural and organic sound. 2020's Aloha represented a middle ground, with Little playing nearly all the instruments but with an aim toward a naturalistic approach.
Aaron Livingston was born in Los Angeles, California, where his mother was an educator and his father was a man of the cloth. He was still a child when his family moved to Queens, New York, and he became fascinated with the flavors of urban life. After graduating from high school, Livingston studied at Columbia University, but dropped out and worked day jobs for a while before relocating to Philadelphia and enrolling at Temple University. While in Philadelphia, he struck up a friendship with members of the Roots, and he guested on their 2011 album Undun; that same year, Livingston collaborated with alternative hip-hop artist Rjd2 in a project they called Icebird, releasing the full-length The Abandoned Lullaby. He soon began recording and releasing digital albums, beginning with Aaron Livingston's Greatest Hits, Vol. -1, but in 2013 he began making music under the name Son Little.
In 2014, Little signed with Anti Records, and in November of that year he dropped a six-song EP entitled Things I Forgot. In April 2015, he produced an EP for legendary gospel and soul singer Mavis Staples, Your Good Fortune; one track from the EP, an interpretation of "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean," won a Grammy Award for Best Roots Performance. October 2015 saw the release of his first solo album, simply titled Son Little. Little toured in support of it, headlining club dates and opening for acts as diverse as Mumford & Sons, Shakey Graves, and Kelis. In 2017, he released New Magic, a more organic-sounding set that was largely written on the road and inspired by the experience of performing his songs with a live band on tour. The third Son Little album, 2020's Aloha, found the artist taking on new challenges. Livingston's original songwriting demos for the album were lost when a hard drive burned out, forcing him to rewrite the songs a few weeks before sessions began. It was also his first time recording with an outside producer, Renaud Letang. ~ Mark Deming