Leo – Leo (CD)

“Fade” is a perfect introduction to Sweden’s latest export, Leo Nielsen. Nielsen (better known as just “Leo”), begins “Fade” with nothing more than a twinkling piano. This simple arrangement tells books worth of narrative, uniting with Nielsen’s soulful, softly spoken vocals soon after. The style of vocals that Nielsen contributes to “Fade” is something pretty unique, coming forth as a blend of Coldplay and Lionel Richie. The choir-like arrangement that plays underneath Leo’s vocals during this track supports and highlights Nielsen’s strength, allowing him to really come forward and dictate how the rest of the track (and album) will ultimately unfold. “Don’t Ask” follows up “Fade” nicely, with the guitar and vocals working together to provide a track that touches on the work of the Goo Goo Dolls, Tom Petty, and Collective Soul.

At its heart, there is a vitality and contemporary sound to “Don’t Ask” that will ensure that the song will make it onto rotation on any radio station that picks up the Leo album. It is during “Don’t Ask” that Leo takes on a slightly harder approach that shows an Audioslave and Soundgarden set of influences to Leo’s music. “Let’s Go (John’s Song)” comes forth in an interesting position: while there still are the musical influences present that empowered “Don’t Ask”, the vocals take a much different tack than what was presented to listeners during that track. The track ultimately evolves into a more sophisticated beast than anything else present during the disc; it truly is a pinnacle among a lofty mountain range.

While a great deal of the track surrounds a laid-back back and forth between the instrumentation and the vocals, Nielsen’s vocals reach an intensity that is unmatched anywhere else on the track. This is mirrored after the fact by the guitars, which lead to an authoritative and compelling ending to the track. With the contributions to the larger corpus of music that Leo has placed on this self-titled release, it should only be a matter of time until Leo Nielsen is a household name in the United States. Here’s to hoping that the beauty of Leo’s compositions come into prominence on this side of the Atlantic, instead of being sequestered on the European continent.

Top Tracks: Don’t Ask, Let’s Go (John’s Song)

Rating: 7.5/10

Leo – Leo / 2008 Self / http://www.myspace.com/nielsonleo/

Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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