The Gift  –  Leon Daye (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

e5f6f40e8d34f0b7a95915221812d8d5b66a2b28.jpegMusic has a bit of a problem these days. We seem to have convinced a generation of middle-class, gap year kids that being a singer-songwriter is some sort of rite of passage that they are not just entitled to explore, but which is almost expected of them. Like getting a tattoo, having your own you tube channel or growing an ironic beard…delete as applicable. It means that you can’t even nip to the shops for a packet of Custard Creams without tripping over some pasty teen in a wide brimmed hat and distressed jeans murdering a Bon Ivor song. Thankfully amongst this morass of musical mediocrity there are still a few wonderful islands to seek refuge on. One of those refuges is Leon Daye shaped.

All of my live encounters with Leon have been in his guise of solo acoustic guy, a format which more than proved how great a song-writer he is, but as is often the case, whilst watching him play I always found my own brain putting the rest of the instruments around his songs. Again, a testament to his writing that his clean-limbed and simple format was astute enough to suggest what the whole band might sound like. Thankfully when he commits his songs to prosperity he does so with that fuller sound.

The title track is the perfect example of what happens when he does allow himself such luxuries and with Aron Attwood’s multi-instrumental aid the most obvious talking point of the album sounds like a half-forgotten Nick Lowe classic, and that is pretty good place to start. Centurion Town also jumps out personally, not just because of its joyousness and jaunt but because it reminds me of some fascinating pre-gig discussions with him about his home town.

Opening salvo, Darkside, is a rich slice of pop-rock, a blend of street smart philosophy, clever dynamic interludes and punchy choruses and Diamonds and Dreams is the perfect way to put this short put exquisitely crafted album to bed, a song that steps from intricate folk textures to cinematic world-pop crescendo’s as it guides us to its conclusion. 

Leon Daye is a safe pair of hands and he seems to have found the perfect producer/wingman/sonic enabler in Aron Attwood. Good songs don’t need too much dressing up before going out to face the world but with there right balance of imagination and more importantly restraint, they can easily become great songs. The Gift is an album of great songs, its sometimes as simple as that.

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