This album review is by guest blogger Matt Brown
It’s no secret that 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic have heightened collective isolation exponentially. That same sense of loneliness has been weighing on Swedish songstress LÉON, whose second album Apart (released October 30) delves into wishful thinking, forlorn lovers, and desolation.
Far and away, the biggest draw to LÉON is her show-stopping voice. Her dynamic vocal conveys the aching pain that comes with being human, somehow encompassing the triumphs, trials, and most prevalently, the heartbreak all within her delivery. Her delicate but raspy tone invites listeners into her world, and the gorgeous, soul-infused pop melodies ensure they stay a bit longer.
Thematically, heartbreak has always been a constant in LÉON’s music. But while her previous work mostly dealt with the miscommunications or troubles of romance (“Tired of Talking,” “Baby Don’t Talk,” “You and I”), this tight 11-song set cuts deeper, allowing more introspection than we’ve ever seen from her. The torch balladry of lead single “In a Stranger’s Arms” follows the attempt to move on, with LÉON having a tough time convincing herself in the outro “I’ll get over you in a stranger’s arms.” Later, “Tell Me” is breathtaking in its cutting brevity, reflecting on the future’s uncertainty before surrendering to a massive chorus.
In fact, that same uncertainty surrounds LÉON throughout most of the album. “Chasing a Feeling” is a soaring anthem that wonders if a love run stale was ever even love at all. Piano ballad “Falling Apart” immediately follows, offering no conclusive answer other than to confirm that the puzzle pieces of the relationship will never quite come back together again after realizing they’re now broken. With this, the title track is a fitting finale to the record, with LÉON repeating to herself in the sister piano ballad, “Now I know nothing at all”.
But fear not, the entire record is not a sullen, ballad-ridden affair. “Who You Lovin’” is an Adele-esque stomper bemoaning an ex with the gall to find new love. “Crazy/Stupid” is this record’s “Falling,” flexing her Swedish pop sensibilities in what could be a potential next single, likely along with the devotional “Die for You”.
But Apart’s biggest highlights are the towering “And It Breaks My Heart” and “Seventeen”, both cinematic in their soundscapes and centerpieces of the LP. The former speaks to the powerlessness of an estranged love. Meanwhile, “Seventeen” perfectly mixes wistfulness with a douse of hope, earnestly asking for “one more dance” before it’s too late.
If her eponymous debut (2019) was the promise of spring in life, Apart illustrates the winter – the frost that decorates missed-memories and the loneliness that comes with adulthood. The album arrives at an appropriate time too, when futures remain unsure and the warmth of LÉON’s voice alone is enough to comfort listeners if only for a fleeting moment.
Here is a full-length audio clip of “Crazy/Stupid” (a song from the album “Apart” that we are giving high-rotation airplay to on our 24/7 online global radio broadcast):
STAR RATING: 4 out of 5 stars
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