Leontine — The Tide
((Not on label) no#, 2015, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2016-05-08
If I wrote reviews for a website with a narrow stylistic focus, I probably would have given up long ago. But the fact that I end up listening to everything from classic progressive rock reissues to free jazz to experimental electronics to who knows what else keeps my interest level up. Leontine is a Mexican project that exemplifies how variety keeps my interest. At its core, it can be regarded as a singer-songwriter project of Helena Sánchez augmented by the talents of drummer / producer Rodrigo Barbosa; they bring in guest musicians to fill out the arrangements, and it is with these arrangements that things get really intriguing. The result is a kind of art-pop with elements of trip-hop, but many tunes that stray outside that dreamy mood. The percussion parts are inventive, mixing acoustic and electronic instruments and applying processing liberally. There is some very nice guitar work, the keyboards incorporate both retro and modern sounds, and there are nice touches such as trumpet and cello on certain songs. But the two defining factors that make Leontine stand out are Sánchez’ voice and the quality of the songs. She is an excellent singer, capable of a full range of expression from tender vulnerability to full-throated anger, and there are some tasty backing parts as well, interweaving the melodies and commenting on them. The melodies are catchy without being predictable, and there are always new surprises coming along. The Tide is a lovely album, well worth a listen for fans of artfully crafted pop.
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