Singer/songwriter Léanie Kaleido released her debut album ‘Karamelien’ in 2005, ‘Quicksands and Shadows’ in 2014 and now this enigmatically titled new collection.
Her songs exist in a timeless flow of voices and waterfall piano, seeming to sound simultaneously intimate and broad in scope. Opener ‘All The Things I’m Made Of’ illustrates this perfectly as the dual vocal threads its magic through the echoing instrumentation, before returning to the impressionistic piano figure.
The pensive waltz of ‘Nobody’s Hero’ is a poetic character description with a spiralling chorus, then Léanie’s gentle voice reveals the mystery of the title track ‘…..do you really need to analyse…love is love it has no size…its like trying to weigh a whale without a scale…’. Four minutes of musings and meanderings interweave with the cyclical chord arrangement and harp sound to produce an effective and addictively gorgeous track.
I like the pastoral indie-folk sounds of ‘Mr Dragonfly’ along with the retro-fun of ‘Hat Thief’ where the acoustic guitar is to the fore. The emotional core of the album is probably the final two tracks, the heartbreak recollection and assertion of ‘Teapot Girl’ over stately layers of keyboards, followed by the clever melody, lyrical allusions and soaring chorus of ‘Kite String Mantra’.
Like a dense and rich forest it is an album of mystery and romance to completely lose yourself in.
The new EP from Jo Ash is five haunting tracks mainly featuring solo piano, a contrast to her song-based solo recordings and performances fronting rock band Derecho.
Opener ‘Petals’ starts hesitantly with a simply-stated theme that develops into a broad and echoing soundscape. Though threaded through with melancholy it calls to mind yearning for open landscapes and escape, especially when a vocal line adds to the texture. ‘Enchanted River’ is a more introspective keyboard study, flowing and cyclical with a calm gentleness laced with a bit of darkness.
Synthesisers are featured on ‘Innocence’, adding a full string sound before Jo’s voice soars above it all in a stately waltz. I particularly like the relaxed pastoral atmosphere of ‘Unspoken’; free of time and place. ‘Orion’s Quest’ evokes a blend of limitless journeys and mythology all leading to the famous constellation. It is an epic six minutes, again driven by a piano chord sequence that keeps returning as other sounds drift in and out. Jo’s voice weaves through the cosmos, culminating in a dramatic passage halfway through before the track drifts off into space. It is certainly a spectacular finale to the collection.
An innovative bonus to buying the EP – it comes with a free short story to add to the mystique…..
A solo debut release for singer/songwriter Dan Ecclestone, last heard as part of Ember Rev on their 2019 album (see review here).
1.Half of All We See Are Shadows. The opener sets the pace and palette for the collection; acoustic instruments enhance the piano as Dan’s voice conjures up lost days, recollections and connections. The imagery is beguiling ‘….watch the lights flicker down there….as there in the shallows tiny minnows dance as if flames in a fire…’ before a soaring chorus ‘…..all the world was watching us that day….’. Unrestrained by too firm a structure the song ebbs and flows, allowing atmosphere and expression to come through.
2. Cri Du Coeur. This starts by showing how effective a simple piano/vocal structure can be then the track sends the listener into a different direction as the strings and drums create an expansive soundscape.
3. Approaching Silence. A wistful musing on regret and the passing of time, built around the opening line ‘…as I approach the age my father died…’, with minimalist keyboard before a sudden stop to this thoughtful minute and a half.
4. King of Lands of Skies and Sea. The musical centrepiece of the album, a calming opus springing from the evocative title. The unhurried verses evolve into the grand chorus with the chamber orchestra at full stretch then dying away to beautiful effect.
5. This Uphill River. Recalling the edgy polyrhythms of Ember Rev this track increases the pace of the collection, pushed on by a spiking drum pattern battling with soothing strings and brass. Dan’s restless vocal drives and binds all the elements of the song together.
6. I Forever Dream of Home. With just piano and voice the finale is a jazzy, late night meditation, tinged with melancholy but there is an undercurrent of hope. The recurring line ‘…….will you still be there when I get home…..’ lingers in the memory as this excellent album concludes.
A new EP from UK singer/songwriter Soham De. It is a follow-up to ‘Blue’, a stripped back trio of songs released in June this year. Much of the music previously recorded by Soham De has been a melding of his heartfelt words with a variety of instrumentation; on all the tracks here it is just piano and voice.
1. Someone Else. The piano introduction is subtle then the voice fades in for this mellow song, when the killer chorus arrives the desperation of the narrator is almost painful. ‘….I end up losing out each time…so what have I got to do? what have I got to lose?….’
2. MM DD. The piano embellishments and chord changes almost steal the show in this short, sparse plea from the heart, with the vocal going from a whisper to a roar.
3. Leave A Light On. With an extended lyrical exploration of the idea of desertion and regret the keyboard echoes the hurt in the unresolved words ‘….we were stepping stones avoiding going down the waterfall….we won’t last…..if you don’t take my hand again…’
4. About Happier Things. A flowing instrumental centrepiece to the collection, perhaps portraying the waterfall in the previous track but essentially showing what a beautiful sound a solo (acoustic?) piano can capture.
5. A Loving Friend In Life. Using the fragile timbres of his voice to great effect on this stylish pop ballad, SD weaves the verses into a warm bluesy chorus; this is my favourite track on the EP.
6. Changing. A stately and emotion-filled bookend to the collection, the rolling piano chords and dynamics bring out the hurt in the vocal. It is a big finish to this involving and deeply personal set of songs.