Succinct writing, intense emotion + classy folk instrumentation
Alex Rigotti
10:35 6th October 2021

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Some of the best artists have such distinct voices that the words they sing will haunt you for days. Think of Lady Gaga's operatic howls, Billie Eilish's jittery vibrato, Miley Cyrus' rockstar rasp. Anna Leone should certainly be included in this group of talented vocalists. The Swedish songwriter's voice is unforgettable: warm, soulful, and gritty, like the crackle of a vinyl player. On her debut album, I've Felt All These Things, she delivers a record packed with succinct writing, intense emotion, and some classy folk instrumentation. 

Leone's writing style is tight, concise, yet impactful; it works best when no word dares to be wasted when channeling a singular, powerful feeling. 'Your Light', the highlight of the album, begins with an urgent request: "there's something I'd like to say/Standing in your shade". Leone's voice has such presence that even when being quiet, she makes the simplest of statements feel absolutely devastating: "I planted flowers/It made me weep". The song's subtle layers of wails, moans, and violins are also impressively balanced, never falling into cliché but still producing a raw, poignant elegy. 

Conversely, this restricted writing can become rather underwhelming if the content isn't precise enough. 'In The Morning', whilst gorgeously sombre in atmosphere, contains Leone's vaguest and least successful chorus: "In the morning, when I wake/In the night, when I'm alone/How I long to be free/In the morning, when I wake". 'Love You Now' — which features a wonderfully dark, galloping riff — embodies both qualities. On the one hand, Leone writes impressive sucker-punch lines, such as when she quivers: "I could have sworn I flew before I fell/And took you with me". It's a shame that the next verse features lyrics that aren't as effective: "I love you now/But I am really tied/I can barely sleep at night/I twist and turn". 

Despite some slips in the lyricism, the album succeeds in establishing a distinct musical identity, one that mixes classic folk fingerpicking with royal, ambient synths that swell and simmer. 'Remember' contains some lovely, ghostly pads in the background, whilst 'Once' uses some understated but delicate string synths. It sounds like the lovechild of cottagecore and 2001: A Space Odyssey (or if that dude on the moon from the John Lewis ads was soundtracked by Keaton Henson instead of Aurora). 

Occasionally, these guitar patterns run the risk of being too similar, as is the case with 'Still I Wait' and 'Do You Ever', or 'Love You Now' and 'In The Morning'. Additionally, there are phrases or concepts which crop up frequently with little variation; with songwriting as stripped as Leone's, it's especially noticeable. Flying, falling, and dreaming are ideas which Leone seems to be interested in, but the Icarus motif in particular seems to be used in a few different songs. It would be nice to have some wider variation, but this repetition isn't too damaging to the overall quality of the album.

If you're interested in stories of vulnerability and healing, love and loss, I've Felt All These Things is the album that brings calm and consolation. With lush, spectral instrumentation, raw songwriting, and Leone's evocative voice, it's a great start for an artist who has a lot of potential. 

I've Felt All These Things arrives 8 October via Half Awake.

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Photo: Press