The whip-smart lyrics and confidence and swagger and unconventional arrangements all feed in to a portrait of an artist with clear ideas and the nous to pull them off.
A beautiful collection of songs that flies high on the wings of its sonic ambition & musicianship & boasts dynamic vocal performances that can flip effortlessly between coruscating & heart-wrenching.
Comparison is the lifeblood of most reviews, but apart from the nods to other artists and songs already mentioned above, Astoria sits quite comfortably in a an alt-country / rock / folk pocket all on its own. Leo Harmonay sounds very comfortable and accomplished in that skin and the breadth of his vision is impressive indeed.
I Imagined A Window is a bit of a rollercoaster. It feels organic and authentic and thrilling, with a dusting of electronics, and, best of all, autotune has been given the day off. Good shout. Where the paint has peeled, it’s only added character and gravity to the ride and I, for one, want to go round again. It’s blown the cobwebs away!
This is an album of crafted and loved material, beautifully sung, played, captured and mixed. A 90s heart may beat at its core, but there’s a modern sheen hovering over it all – along with smart production and arrangement choices. A great listen.
In terms of spirit, I am very much reminded of the eponymous first album by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. Civilian feels earnest and honest and urgent.
Utterly unhurried, and all the better for it, Voice of Dawn looks like it’s done at around 6 minutes, then a slightly tremulous, yet controlled tender vocal comes in right at the death, before being swept away in a shocking sweep of white noise that takes us through to the end proper. Worth your full attention for its full run time. Nicely done!
The mix is a little muddy, as befits the genre, but I like it – it feels retro, knowing and modern all at once, and the hooks are all very much in place. Strap yourselves in!
Wonderful syncopated guitar riffs and piano work introduce Burning Bridges, a zesty and confident piece of modern country, which rattles along at a fair old pace with some terrific vocals from Bree Taylor.
It’s a melding of primarily 60s- and 70s-influenced classic rock songs and sounds and yet sounding audacious and as fresh-as-a-daisy enough to consistently beguile the listener, I’m at a bit of a loss for words, whilst seemingly being able to write endlessly about it!
This collection is a fascinating retrospective that showcases his talents nicely. Something of a musical magpie, he fearlessly plugs in to all manner of influences, instruments and collaborators with the kind of gusto and skill that can only be admired. It’s extremely accomplished and extremely impressive.
I guess what I’m saying is the album leans into something akin to a multi-sensory experience… intellect, emotion, poetry, visual story-telling, painting with sounds… if you choose, all are engaged by this melting pot that Vlasse has put together.