SK Shlomo doesn’t need to prove his talent by this point. With a long career comprising international tours, dedicated fans, high-profile collaborations and beatboxing titles, we can expect him to deliver. But he has been away for a while, and in Surrender he wants to tell us why. The audience are treated to all the live looping and beatboxing one would expect, but parts of Surrender have an almost spoken word quality to them as SK Shlomo opens up about the struggle with mental health issues that saw him withdraw from touring and performing a few years ago before making this return.
Tracks from his new album, charting and celebrating his recovery, are interwoven with more upbeat experimental interludes amongst a narrative explaining what happened. The thing is, though, we still don’t quite know the full picture.
While Surrender aims for vulnerability and openness, SK Shlomo mostly talks in the abstract about experiencing depression and PTSD, hinting at elements of a story he doesn’t quite let us into. The show doesn’t really get beyond snippets of personal experience and a plea to open up to friends and family. He doesn’t owe us every gritty detail, but after setting up the show as a tell-all interpretation of “my story”, we notice its absence.
As ever, SK Shlomo is strongest mid-track, effortlessly looping and beatboxing to an audience enthralled by his immense talent and creativity. While compelling and brave, his discussion of mental health doesn’t quite reach the heights of his production and performance.