New Season -
Luke Leighfield is oft referred to as the most hardworking man in music, and it's a title well earned. At only twenty four, he's already releasing his fourth album in amongst a string of other achievements - recording live sessions for BBC Radio 1 and XFM, for example, or playing over 650 shows in fourteen countries around the world.
New Season sees Leighfield building on his past albums and potentially trying to break out of the singer-songwriter mould that he sometimes appears to fall into. Piano rock is nothing particularly new or revolutionary, but where Leighfield sets himself apart is through his use of DIY ethic. New Season is fully orchestrated in ways that many more mainstream artists would be envious of; the songs that make full use of it are the best, including some near-epic moments on the almost theatrical It's You.
The introductory track Slow Down was a poor choice - too slow-starting and soporific, it induces a syrupy feeling eerily similar to how I imagine it would feel to wade through treacle.
New Season would have been a much better decision; the song is livelier from the start and showcases how Leighfield is at his best when surrounded by a plethora of instruments rather than remaining overly reliant on his piano. There is, however, a measure of apathy in Leighfield's voice that he doesn't seem to be able to shake - whatever feelings New Season manages to create, Leighfield never sounds convincing as he sings that 'it feels like spring is here.'
Sadly, New Season doesn't set Leighfield apart from the slew of current piano orientated singer-songwriters as much as it should do. The album is reminiscent of Ben Folds and Andrew McMahon, with none of the individual style that allows the two to stand out. If you already like Leighfield's work, then there's nothing to dislike here, but it's unlikely to attract any new fans.
That's not to say that New Season isn't good. It is - Leighfield is good at what he does, and for piano rock, it's certainly amongst the best. It's just that for his fourth album, it could have been so much better.