Jazz can sometimes be seen as a dirty word in the world of popular music, elitist and complex and generally just difficult to get your ears round. But then, it turns out, Jazz is the perfect base ingredient in many great pop music recipes, as ably demonstrated by Bristol’s We Are Leif.
Breathe, the debut album from this quartet of seasoned Jazz musicians, is a recording full of sweetly delicious songs imbued with a slick, sophisticated pop mentality. Think back to the 90’s Acid Jazz led heyday of Jazz influenced sounds hitting the mainstream, in particular outfits like Brand New Heavies and you are part way to understanding what these guys are about.
Blending their improv Jazz chops with neo-soul and grown up R‘n’B, and then giving it a smoky, backstreet club vibe borrowed from Trip Hop and unmistakeably Bristolian, We Are Leif have created something that is reassuringly familiar yet excitingly new.
Lead from the front by the exquisite and captivating vocals of Louise Victoria, these 10 songs deftly tread that line linking noodly jazz improv with driven, melodic jazz-pop. All four are quite obviously highly skilled musicians, but crucially, they have allowed themselves to be directed by some very strong songwriting and an obvious desire to create something for a wider audience – an admirable endeavour that has on the whole been a great success.
Well judged, well executed and based on some very accomplished songwriting, this is a fantastic slice of down-beat music for upbeat people.
Breathe is out now and available to buy through bandcamp.