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LEAH SENIOR The Passing Scene gets 8/10


Leah Senior

The Passing Scene
Flightless

8/10

Leah Senior has been a much-beloved figure on the Australian scene whose folk-pop sound has attracted many admirers over the last few years, and has seen her open for artists like Jeff Tweedy and Jessica Pratt. Her latest album on King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s label Flightless, The Passing Scene, is an effortlessly charming selection that is bound to draw many more ears.

This wonderful collection of folk pop tunes runs the gamut from Carpenters-esque pop like album opener and latest single Evergreen, to more explicitly folky offerings like the emphatic Time Traveller. The common thread between most of the songs here is a great ear for a tune, autumnal but predominantly positive lyrics, and instrumentation as warm and welcoming as a hearth. Evergeen is the perfect distillation of these ingredients. The lyrics, about growing pains and staying ‘ever green’ when others ripen, will bring a smile to your face. The tune itself is an ear-worm that’s guaranteed to be a fan favourite, and it’s buoyed by bouncy piano, warm bass and some understated slices of guitar.

Other highlights include beautiful little pop ballad Dreary Day, a piano-driven tune that wouldn’t be out of place in the late-60s McCartney songbook. The lyrics again fit the mood perfectly, regarding self-acceptance even if life can be dreary at times. And Ocean Quilt Lady is another highlight, with its looping piano line and the memorable go-get-it refrain of “Summer is the best time to make it baby/ But autumn is the master for making changes.” It plays like a sleepy folky version of Eye of the Tiger, and it’s lovely.

All the other tracks have something to offer too. With or Without Me is a wistful ballad with a beautiful vocal and some great country guitar embellishments, while Dress Up a Heart would make Aldous Harding proud with its air of sombre mystery. First single Graves is catchy too, though it shows its age as its jangly guitar sound feels a at odds with the piano-driven rhythms of the rest of the album.

This is music as as relaxing and uplifting as an autumn stroll in the park, the only complaint being that it doesn’t seek to claim the spotlight. Senior’s voice is pretty, but it never looks to shake you. To compare her to two similarly retro-minded contemporaries, her pop offerings never reach the majesty of a Weyes Blood, nor does her take on folk stretch the form or make you scratch your head like the aforementioned Aldous Harding. Then again, these are two of the best artists in the music landscape today, so that much can be forgiven.

In fact, this may be the best indie-folk album of the year thus far. A selection of excellent homespun tunes that will bring a smile to your face without having to raise the volume.

MATIJA ZIVKOVIC

 

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