Ama Lou Wants You To Get to Know Her On Debut Album, ‘I Came Home Late’

The UK singer’s new album ‘I Came Home Late,’ is out now.

UK singer-songwriter Ama Lou is coming for everything that’s hers. On September 1st, the London native will release her debut album, I Came Home Late, a 15-song journey through her musical progression. Within her husky tone, Lou’s lyrical sincerity harkens back to her roots as a gifted songwriting wunderkind. 

Lou’s knack for improvising songs often occurred on-the-spot. In one of her earliest childhood memories, she recalls singing to herself and being advised to push her craft. “I just started singing and my dad says, ‘Oh, is that the new Rihanna song?’” she said. “I replied, ‘No, I just made it up.’ He then says, ‘What? That sounded fully formed. You should write it down.’ I’ve been writing [for] so long as I can remember the moment, but then I can’t remember not writing after that.”

Since then, Lou’s lyricism on projects DDD, Ama, who? and At Least We Have This garnered praise from Drake and Jorja Smith, the latter tapping Lou during her 2018 tour. Looking back on her early projects, Lou critiques it as being enigmatic while acknowledging the lengths it has taken for her artistry to ascend past her formative years. “Because I had been [songwriting] for so long, I took advantage of the fact that it was easy,” she said. “Therefore, I didn’t hone in as much as I do now, or make it relatable to loads of other people, or I would make it cryptic so I could hide behind it. So people would not really actually know how I felt.” 

But now, Lou is in her era of opening up. She says that on ICHL “everything’s extremely personal,” growing her ability to connect with fans who can relate to the album’s themes of loneliness and growth. “Back when I was doing DDD, I had this arrogance around me like, ‘This is whatever, I don’t care.’ But now, it’s very much heart on my sleeve, or moreso, the veil is down. My music is much more specific,” said Lou.

In the ballad “Caught Me Running,” Lou is in seclusion after a chaotic relationship. On “Played Me,” she exposes a dishonest lover before her post-breakup acceptance reaches a dance-worthy end. “Real Me” shows Lou being intentional with her purpose, proclaiming “I was not meant to fit in.”

For Lou – who considers herself to be “genre-less” although critics often box her in the R&B category – her songwriting method is uncomplicated: let the music lead. “Melody is the first thing I hear, it’s the first thing that comes to me,” she said. “With melody, I try to do my best by the song, so I don’t let ego get in the way, and I let the songs show me what they are rather than trying to implement a sound on them. I can write anywhere. I feel like that’s why I found it so easy as a kid, because it was always my thing and would distract me and keep me safe.”

Looking back on her youth, Lou takes one of the first songs she ever wrote, “Bad Weather,” and gives it a refresh on ICHL, rediscovering that she relates to it more in adulthood. “I always feel like I write songs and I’ll be like, ‘Where did that come from?’ It’s probably something deep in my subconscious. Then in the future, the song will make so much sense, which is kind of freaky sometimes,” she said. 

Lightly enhancing the song’s chords and feeling, Lou perfectly lands “Bad Weather” as a centerpiece in the moody ICHL universe. When Lou first began her professional career, she sought to be “more experimental,” but on her debut LP, she reintroduces her adolescent songwriting as being second nature from the very beginning. “‘Bad Weather’ is so pure; I didn’t think I even knew what I was writing at the time,” she said. “I just felt like, ‘What better way to introduce myself with a debut album, from a song that was written at a time where my mind or my perception of myself hadn’t been tainted by anything?’”

Having to redo ICHL completely from scratch in the aftermath of COVID, the LP’s direction came to Lou after living as an expat in Los Angeles. Departing the West Coast for London offered Lou the album intention she needed, along with a return to self.“After the pandemic, when I came back to London and spent more time here as an adult – not as an arrogant teenager – I realized how much there was for me,” she said. “Where I grew up and how I grew up had an influence on me, even though I had spent my early-twenties in America. It was a laughable moment where I was like, ‘You spend so much time away, but really, everything was here. It’s always been here.’

Lou’s visual cues have also developed with the help of her filmmaker sister, Mahalia, who encouraged that the artist dance in a downpour in the heavily choreographed “Silence” music video. Although mortified at the memory of dancing beneath a rain machine, it opened the singer up to a different type of performance. “It was something that my sister suggested, not specifically about this video, but she suggested ‘I think for the next [music video], you should go choreo. I was like, ‘You know what? I’ve never done that.’ I’ve never even thought I could. This song kind of permitted it,” said Lou.

The singer’s auteur creativity coupled with a new production team alongside her sister, Marlzama Films – has fans begging for Lou to direct a film. “The videos that we make are so cinematic because they do come from that place of love of film,” she said. “In those minutes that you’re watching a video of mine, I want it to feel like there’s as much thought that went into it as if you went to the cinema and were watching a full-length feature.”

For her ICHL rollout, Lou’s androgynous-leaning fashion has gotten more casual. In editorials and Instagram candids, the singer’s cherub expression and slim physique are accented by neutrals and clean-cut attire. “My look is uniform because I have quite a routine for when this album comes out. So I have this routine of just loose pants and the same t-shirt that I put on every day,” she said. 

Apart from Lou inspiring fans’ fashion moodboards, she wants them to get familiar with her truest self. On ICHL, Lou achieves it, no longer hidden by the mystique that once shrouded her. “Unintentionally with my releases, there’s been this air of mystery of who I am as a person,” she said. “Maybe I did that subconsciously on purpose, but with I Came Home Late, it’s a good, fresh, clean slate of ‘This is who I am as an artist.’ It gives you an insight to every part of me and all the ways I see things.”

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