Blissful Red is the solo project for Tom Leaver. Leaver recently released Playin' At Rock Stars which is a six-song EP. The production and songwriting was impressive. Leaver worked with Andy Yeadon who helped sculpt the album.
The EP starts with “Like Layla.” Being a big fan of Kurt Vile, that was the first thing that popped in my head. There is an undeniable similarity in terms of the vocals and the guitar playing especially on the opening track and on “Exceptionally Dumb.” The resemblance wanes on certain songs such as “Wonderwheel” which had a tinge of ’70s rock.
“Watery Sun” was the highlight to my ears. I really enjoyed the guitar especially the way it was juxtaposed against the percussion. On top of that the hooks are in full effect with Leaver’s subdued, warm vocals sitting perfectly in the mix. The lyrics are poetic, ambiguous and avoid cliches. He sings, “But I'll tread carefully, for you the precious queen. I'd speak and she'd get riled. A drive in silence beats, them two on Galaxy.”
Another standout was “Stuck In Neutral.” The percussion has this ’70s lounge-y, funk feel to it with piano work that gives it a very enticing vibe. I thought the music on this song sounded the most unique to Leaver’s sound. I hope to hear more music like this in the future.
He closes strong with “Catch Me.” The vocals here are arguably the most memorable on the album. There was a little more airiness in the vocals and maybe a more optimism as well. It also didn’t hurt that he sounded really good with Moray Nellis.
Playin' At Rock Stars was a good EP from head to toe. Leaver’s singing style is distinct and I thought some of the more percussive heavy material started to carve a unique niche for his sound.
The EP flew by and felt like an appetizer. I wouldn't have minded another two or three tracks. At any rate this is a release I wouldn't miss out on. Recommended.
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