Leach’s Millennial Spirituals is a Beautiful Take on Transitions

by Kayleigh Hughes

Leach Millennial Spirituals

Where Stuart Leach, who performs as Leach, truly excels as a musician is in earning the swell, time and time again: the gentle and earnest dedication to a mood, the purity of sentiment in lyrics that balance precise human moments with elements of surreal abstraction, which build from a quiet and unrushed loveliness into a grand expression, a swell of melancholy or love–or most often a melancholy sort of love–that holds the listener still and breathing heavy. Leach lives for the swell.

As an expansion of 2015’s fantastic Kokedama, Millennial Spirituals is just as artful at bringing that swell, while also being more thoughtful, richer, and less playful. Put simply, it’s a bit more mature as a record. Leach’s voice is still as sweet and delicate, his falsetto still as arresting and his point of view still as singular. But there’s a touch of added heaviness to Millennial Spirituals, and it’s sultry in a way the more youthful Kokedama never was.

The first track on Millennial Spirituals is the very strong “Superego,” which finds Leach, in one of his most powerful vocal performances, introducing the album’s theme in the first line: “Merry go round in the liminal spaces.” In a recent interview, the musician told Ovrld’s Nick Hanover “I think my music works best for people in life’s transitional seasons,” and he holds true to that idea and expands on it with this new album. Each song feels like an opportunity to pause for feeling in that gauzy liminal space between what you used to know and where you’re headed.

Leach makes the very well-considered decision to feature vocalist Alyssa Frost on three of Millennial Spirituals’ tracks, with her warm, clear voice consistently matching the romantic mood established on the music while also providing the slightest bit of extra grounding when Leach’s dreamy vocals threaten to drift off entirely into a hazy sky. The two are at their best together on “What I Do,” a track that’s soulful and flirty and tinged with a tone of lamentation that makes it an easy repeat listen.

Other highlights include “Cloud Nine,” a candid and articulate take on seduction that features one of my favorite lyrics on the record, “She’s not as mortal as I thought,” which flips the more traditional scenario of a man being letdown by the inevitable imperfection of his lover. Ever the romantic, Leach seems honored to bow to this feminine divinity.

I’ve said this before about Leach, but his music deserves to be called pretty and that deserves to be a pure compliment. Millennial Spirituals offers precise and original melodies, sparkling tones, and tender, unashamed take on love and self-reflection in times of transition.

Kayleigh Hughes is an editor, freelance writer, and overthinker. In addition to contributing to Ovrld, Kayleigh is the film editor at Loser City and contributor to Pitchfork, Vox, The Establishment and more. Talk to her about literally anything–she doesn’t have that many friends–on twitter or via email.