STYLE: R&B RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 158458-23334 LABEL: Columbia 888750891426 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1
Reviewed by Tony Cummings
If you're still to catch up on this talented 25 year old singer/songwriter from Texas let me explain that this exceptionally affecting vocalist has a classic rags-to-riches story (well not quite riches yet as this is Leon's debut album). Leon had a job washing dishes when during an open mic night he was heard by a Texan rock band White Denim. The band spirited Leon away into a studio crammed with vintage gear, some dating back to the '40s, and emerging with an album which has been snapped up by music giant Sony. Rave reviews have followed with publications as diverse as NME and The Telegraph praising what has been dubbed Leon's "retro soul stylings". Retro soul, like all music labels, is a frustratingly imprecise category seeming to take in everybody from Amy Winehouse to D'Angelo but whatever the pigeonholing it's clear that the tone and cadences of Leon's warm, rich voice are not dissimilar to '60s giant Sam Cooke. Leon purrs exquisitely on the doowop-sounding "Smooth Sailin'" while "Coming Home" with its hummable chorus of "Wanna be around girl", "Shine" with its languid horns and "Flowers" which even features some ragtime piano all transport the listener to earlier musical times. The best track of all though is "River" which, as Leon told Uncut magazine, "is a metaphor for being born again." Here's hoping that this most gifted of artists will go on to the same kind of international fame once enjoyed by Sam Cooke. But here's also hoping that having, like Sam, begun his recording career as a Christian, Leon doesn't allow the entanglements of showbiz to destroy his Christian walk.
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