Thursday, 19 October 2017

EP: Leila Jane - Decision Maker

Leila Jane - Decision Maker

Info: Leila Jane grew up in both London and Donegal and began writing songs at age 15, after listening to the full recordings of the 1930’s blues player Robert Johnson. Following an appearance at the Cambridge folk festival in 2013, Leila Jane was described as "Somewhere between Janis Joplin and Sandy Denny’". Since then Leila has been gigging widely and travelling to the USA to pick up inspiration for her songs. She embraces the magic of the Delta Blues, combined with the sweet-sounding tones of 50’s rock’n’roll and country music with a modern twist. Her raw and heartfelt lyrics display a deep emotional intelligence that portrays an old soul despite her youthful years.

After coming to the attention of Imelda May in 2015, Leila received the Imelda May scholarship to study songwriting at BIMM Dublin, where she would go on to  recruit her band, Leila Jane & The Healers. 

It's a haunting opening to Leila Jane's Decision Maker with 'Look Away From Our Creation' as she instantly delves deep into her musical influences, reproducing them with a natural ability that is impressive to say the least. A controlled and trembling vocal that sounds like it could reach any height required, accompanied by an almost surf-rock musical backdrop, plonks you right back to those 1950's roots that inspire her.

'Woman Blues' flips over to the country blues plain, this reminds me so much of when Led Zeppelin went full country and blues rock on Physical Graffiti with tracks like 'Black Country Woman' and 'Boogie With Stu'. The guitar is immaculate and at the 2:14 point I'm in heaven, this is 100% connecting to my favourite era of music, it's honky tonk blues magic.

'Except Henry' is simply stunning, it's hard to fathom that here we have just Leila Jane's vocal with piano and some very distant but essential strings, it is fully wholesome sound-wise, and again makes you wonder is there a vocal style or musical era that's out of her reach. The EP's title-track is perhaps the most contemporary in terms of direction, a little bit First Aid Kit and a little bit Angel Olsen, without immediately sounding like either, and at this point I'm trying to think of an Irish vocalist currently operating whose delivery I enjoy more.

We're cast way back to an auditorium or old world club with 'I Got Feeling', brimming with soul and assured playfulness bringing a good ole' skiffle jam to mind with a bit of Dusty Springfield theatrics thrown in for good measure. Decision Maker closes with 'Lonely The Day', we've been treated to plenty of lively moments to this point and it is a nice manner in which to finish, allowing Leila Jane's singing to softly wander through our ears while we reflect on the whirlwind tour she's brought us on.

I really can't praise this EP enough, the varying moods, the musicianship, production and of course Leila Jane's song-writing and vocals, as well as how it resonates with my own personal tastes all work perfectly in conjunction together. She is without doubt an artist we need to celebrate and her third EP Decision Maker is very easily one of the best Irish EP's of 2017, I hope an awful lot of people hear it.

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