My Soul Speaks
Leon doesn’t sing until a couple of cuts into his debut album, but it feels like he had been talking to us the whole time. His atmospheric guitar playing tells stories that don’t need words to be communicated; there’s an unspoken narrative that spills from every fragile note. Only a musician of genuine talent and passion can move untrained ears with instrumentals. Leon is able to accomplish that effortlessly, drawing us in quickly with the laidback groove of “Sweet Tomorrow,” which glows with the hope of better days to come.
As a mood piece, this record weaves together a variety of emotions, sometimes in the same piece. “Sweet Tomorrow,” for example, swings back and forth between dimly-lit introspection and sunny optimism. You don’t need words to convey what Leon is trying to get across. In his sleeve notes, Leon writes, “Tomorrow will be a better day — because I envisioned it to be.” In other words, we are in charge of our emotional states; we can choose to see good things ahead of us if we are not blinded by our own unfounded fears.
I am particularly fond of “Lisa,” which is dreamy and progresses slowly and smoothly as the finest wine. It is an impeccable track. You may call it jazz, but to me it is “soul music” — as in music from the soul, not the genre. Leon isn’t exaggerating when he titled this record. These are compositions written from inside of him, and it is pure bliss to experience from beginning to end.