Video Teaser: https://youtu.be/v5I3R_SURcg
Written by Lydia Stewart, posted by blog admin
This is an EP that pulls no punches. Samantha Leon culled the funds for her first self-titled release as a result of a Kickstarter campaign that has enabled her to express herself in a way few artists do anymore. She’s not afraid of staring loss in the face. She’s likewise emboldened to declare her continuing wounded strength over the course of these seven songs and surrounds herself with musical backing that frames her sweet, aching voice with great aplomb. The EP’s production, despite its DIY funding, is obviously astute in how it frames her pained and praise worthy narratives with a distinctly theatrical tinge that never flattens or gussies up the emotional authenticity of her material. Samantha Leon is undoubtedly real and the lessons she learned from influences like Cat Stevens and others inform this debut in a multitude of ways while still allowing her to sing with individuality.
The opening track “Bright Yellow Shoes (No Turbulence Mix)” proves to be an excellent opening curtain. We’re immediately introduced to all the elements defining her work. There’s tremendous atmospherics coming through in her phrasing, the way she elongates certain words while passing over others, and how she tailors her voice to the accompaniment. This is moody music, but make no mistake that it is despairing. Instead, much of this collection is about experience, surviving it, and what lessons we can glean from that survival. This theme is given a darkly comic twist with the track “High (You Only Love Me When You’re Fucked Up)”, but even the light comedic touch doesn’t mitigate the heartbreak at the heart of the song. This track is musically distinguished by some particularly inventive percussion and guitar work that never attempts competing with her voice but, instead, helps shape its presentation in such a way that further highlights her strengths. “Run Away” is, arguably, the angriest track on this EP, but Leon is never so cheap as a writer or performer that she undercuts the track with bellicose bile. The vocal, as always, is technically superb and understated, but there are real teeth in her emotions capable of cutting into any listener.
“Perfect” features Danny Matos collaborating with Leon on an acoustic track with some great percolating percussion and shimmering acoustic guitar. This is a singer and group of musicians with considerable finesse at their command, but they never let their technical excellence undercut the raw feelings burning in the song’s heart. The musical intensity ramps up in the song’s second half and Matos’ emergence with his rapping style helps seal the deal that this is one of the EP’s best tracks. The full band version of the opener “Bright Yellow Shoes” has a less ethereal quality than the previous version, but the laidback vibe remains strong. There’s even some nice strings augmenting the song and its light melodic touch helps further enrich the inherent melancholic quality of the song. Soulful pop rarely sounds as good as Samantha Leon’s debut and she’s certain to make a deep impression on anyone who hears this release.