Luke Leighfield – New Season
In the biography of Luke Leighfield, which reads like a CV, his fourth album New Season is described as his most accomplished work to date, comparing the sound to both Coldplay and Mates of State. Instantly there was a surge of curiosity as to where in between these two artists we would find the sound of New Season. Released through Got Got Need, which Luke owns and runs, he has performed live over 650 times in 14 countries since his first show in May 2005 at the Cricket Pavilion in Upton-upon-Severn. Frequently playing in fan's living rooms (through invitation, not breaking and entering) and known for his inventive marketing campaigns, which includes releasing single 'The One Thing' as a download code on a mug, he has received numerous compliments for his DIY ethic.
We start at the beginning. Album opener 'Slow Down' is about as middle-of-the-road as it gets, as if Turin Brakes were covering Athlete. From here, the album meanders through a sea of similar sounds, although never far from the middle. An unexpected guitar solo at the end of second track 'New Season' led me to believe that something different was about to come, that I was completely wrong about everything I had thought about Luke Leighfield up until now. Unfortunately the next track on the record is 'It's You', and any optimism I may have had was instantly eroded. 'Patience' and 'Live For More' are further sucker punches in the record, with the latter ironically making me lose the will to live, although the ending is actually quite heartfelt and showcases some of the positives to come from the album.
Songs like 'Whispering' and 'Garde Ta Foy' are where any song writing talent shines through. The slow build of the latter before launching into a relatively orchestral conclusion, as the backing vocalists chant “are you ready?” repeatedly, it's easy to forget everything that came before and remain firm in the belief that you simply misunderstood the rest of the record, and now you've seen the best, you can go back and appreciate the rest. In this case it doesn't work like that, and even on an attempted second listen, New Season still comes across in the same bland way.
You can't fault Luke Leighfield for his commitment and effort, and while musically his work lacks originality, he demonstrates a resolute ambition to present his songs to anyone willing to listen. He's present on just about every social networking site you could imagine, and is clearly undeterred in making himself available to as many people as possible. In some cases, it's not that the song are bad, it's just that you struggle to believe the stories he sings about.
New Season sounds like something you might hear in a school assembly when the the teachers are attempting to “get down with the kids”, but all the teachers seem to think that their pupils all think Starsailor is hardcore and Songs of Praise is a bit edgy. I can't see Luke Leighfield putting down his piano any time soon, although I think I'd be more impressed that he picked it up in the first place, because pianos are notoriously heavy. By all means, indulge any curiosity you may have over his work, but don't be surprised when you find yourself regretting so. Top marks for effort, but low points scored for presentation and content bring it down.