Saint Leonards Horses

Saint Leonard’s Horses – Good Luck Everybody (Xtra Mile Recordings)

Based in London, Saint Leonard’s Horses’ debut was produced by Nick Trepka in a studio adjacent to Stanley Kubrick’s study and it allowed the artist to put sounds down where parts of movies such as The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut were filmed. This experience was not entirely lost on the singer and his band as the director’s influences are sprinkled throughout the LP.

‘Well Well Well’ opens this impressive debut with a laid back guitar and harmonica intro. The bass and piano come in and we are presented with Leonard’s unmistakable vocals. They are coarse. They are worn and weathered, but they sing beautifully pronounced spoken English. As with all the tracks here, there are many layers. Guitar overdubs, keys, piano, harmonica, harmonies, etc. And then the Eddie Vedder/Chris Cornell feel to Leonard’s voice just glues the whole thing together. As he sings “I was gonna tell the truth, but I’d never live it down”, you get the feeling that he has lived a life that has worn and weathered not only his vocals but also  his psyche too.

Follow up ‘Long John Silver’ starts with a great piano riff augmented by some rock guitar. Singing about drinking and being sober, this feels like a very personal song, especially when it references both Hotel California and Johnnie Walker. ‘Rise up’ is the track that really gets your ears pricked and makes you realise that you are listening to something very special. The slinky, smooth vocals sing about “love of God” and when the gospel singers join in with the refrain of ‘Rise Up’ you start to wonder what this guy’s faith is, or whether he has any at all? Personally, I prefer the latter. I enjoy making all gods angry. Either way, what a song! Brilliant stuff.

‘Little Girl Scientist’ is another fascinating track that starts off slow and feels very 70s in its influences. The intricate music and vocals dance together and when Leonard sings about a pretentious girlfriend’s “Vonnegut books” the track somehow feels timeless. It’s an immediately catchy song that you swear you have heard before. Very much like the whole of the album to be honest. ‘Goddess Of Electric Gold’ comes next and for me, this is the track of the LP. A piano frill at the beginning introduces a stark acoustic guitar that is replete with a haunting “ooo”. Once the stabbing vocals come in, suddenly everything is ramped up to a thunderous, cacophonic chorus that is quite overwhelming.

As it progresses you get subtle Kubrick references and influences coming through. What you also get is a plethora of influences that range from rocky harmonies of The Black Crowes to the intricate playfulness of Elbow. And similarly to Garvey, Leonard has written and pitched his songs in a way that automatically fit into an arena or stadium. These are big tunes about big subjects, and the band plays them brilliantly. There is no filler here. Each track could be a single release and the scope of it is breathtaking. A scarily great debut from a very big talent.

Good Luck Everybody is out now on Xtra Mile recordings.

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