If the waves of popular music move in trends and cycles, one man resolutely panning the bandwagons and fads for his own inimitable style is London singer-songwriter Kieran Leonard. On his long-awaited debut album Out Of Work Astronaut, he proves that not fitting in isn’t necessarily a bad thing, embracing a unique and sincere approach that makes for an intimate listen.
Sonically lying somewhere between Dylan and Lennon, Leonard’s debut is quietly charismatic; a poetic, thought-provoking journey through curious narratives, strange turns of phrase and gorgeous mini masterpieces. ‘Ouija Board’ lives up to its title with an ominous, spooky atmosphere whilst ‘Vampire’ shows a dark, wry humour with lyrics about imaginary vegetarian vampires. ‘Air Raid’ possesses an inherent sadness as Leonard sighs “I’ve been watching television/Now it feels my life’s gone missing” in just one example of acute societal observations made throughout the record.
Hard-hitting and heartfelt, ‘Harold Pinter Is Dead’ forms the album’s highlight, a gentle piano-led ode not just to the late playwright but to the disaffected youth. It’s the kind of misty-eyed, rousing ballad that wouldn’t feel out of place in the corner of a dimly lit pub at 2am after one too many whiskeys; an unlikely, understated anthem that calmly pierces the heart of student culture with lines like “you’ve got tattoos and Topman shoes/twenty Marlboro Lights and tragically nothing else to lose.”
Tinged with a homemade charm, Out Of Work Astronaut creates the illusion Leonard is performing these songs in the same room as you, an almost tangible spectre leaping from the stereo speakers. It’s a record that is gracefully personal and one that’s unafraid to tread its own path. For those already familiar with Kieran Leonard, Out Of Work Astronaut will have seemed a long time coming. Ultimately, though, it’s been worth the wait, proving to be an accomplished debut that hints at even greater forays in the future.
Release date: August 27th