Léon at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen
Playing to a crowd that is positively electric for a Monday evening, Léon embodies everything that is fresh, good and right about modern music. She waves to the audience and powers into her first song, Think About You, a sonically smooth but cutting soul-searching number, filling the room with her voice. As she sings, she gesticulates sharply in the manner of a would-be rapper and jerks around to the beat, but she is all soul. She’s no stranger to the scene. After her track Tired of Talking from her debut EP, Treasure, got over 40 million listens on Spotify a European tour swiftly followed and her small but dedicated fan base continues to grow.
The heart of her sound is old-school soul, with echoes of Joplin and Dusty Springfield. But the singer overlays this with the choral synths and processed beats of modern dance and pop music, as if icing a sturdy fruit cake with a dazzling glaze. She can write both tracks to dance to and ballads; her new single Liar is a searing piano number so deep that one can get lost underneath its surface, with the refrain “If it’s love, it is rough / Why am I not enough?”. But the foot-stomping Treasure and anthemic Tired of Talking steal the show, and everyone in the room knows the words – particularly her fans near the front, who are a riot all the way through the performance.
The Stockholm-based musician throws in some curveballs, too, with a soulful rendition of Arctic Monkeys’ Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High? and a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams that would give Stevie Nicks a run for her money. Léon’s vocal range is impressive, but the melodies of her songs catch the ear most keenly.
The brilliance of this artist is that she defies categorisation: she manages to meld raw, unembellished vocals with intricately textured pop soundscapes. Because of this alone, Léon should receive mainstream acclaim. If there is tweaking to be done, it may come, but she already has a winning formula that needs nothing more. And musical alchemy like that is very rare indeed.
Photos: Nick Bennett
For further information about Léon and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Treasure here: