17 May 2022
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Jessica Leigh - EP Review: Summerland

14 Oct 2021 // A review by Danica Bryant

Following her popular June release Summer Royalty, Jessica Leigh proudly offers her second EP Summerland, a sweltering collection of songs telling the story of a doomed summer romance through synth-pop and singer-songwriter stylings.

Summerland opens subtly, with gentle guitar and quiet synths on Met Him At A Party, where Leigh introduces the EP’s vital romance with utmost sincerity. Her lyrics are literal, following a shift from strangers to lovers in visionary detail. Although she claims she is “acting like a child,” her vocals are especially mature. The track is also structurally unusual, following an almost strophic form with a sweet, clear melody, which positions the rest of the EP as the song’s true climax. Lead single Summer Royalty follows, as upbeat and expansive as ever, and now serving as an exciting yet haunting prelude of what’s to come within the wider context of Summerland.

Interlude Summer Swelter features some stunning low vocals, pretty harmonies and promising drums, as well as jittery effects near its close which pique interest. Soft waves close out the song, calling to mind the natural sounds on Lorde’s recent effort Solar Power. By Teenage Romeo, the joyful romance theme is largely worn out. But Leigh keeps the sound inspired with a creative electropop-esque breakdown, building a sure-fire next single from the EP. Closing track Final Bow is comparatively stripped down, with beautiful, gentle acoustic production and melancholy lyrics declaring “it was over from the start” in its vulnerable finale.

Summerland is a largely conceptual EP. It has strong narrative flow, with clever lyrical links between beaches, long drives and evening parties. However, this narrative focus occasionally makes the sonic differences between songs feel abrupt. Its concept is also strikingly similar to the summer-through-winter party Lorde encapsulated in her 2017 album Melodrama. Nonetheless, it’s a heartfelt musical journey of a sophomore effort. Leigh shows promise in the raw emotion and poetic stylings of her songwriting, and Summerland highlights her blossoming storytelling potential, which will surely rise to thrilling heights with further establishment of her sound.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )
 

About Jessica Leigh

Born and raised in small-town New Zealand, emerging pop princess Jessica Leigh has been writing songs about the beauty of youth since 12 years of age. Now 19, the Kiwi songstress is gearing up to release her second EP Summerland later this year. The EP is a 5 part narrative articulating the love story of a Summer romance from its beautiful beginning to its inevitable end.

Summerland is the follow-up to Leigh's debut effort 17 - a four-part, vibrant electro-pop love letter to that time in her life. Jessica claims that "nostalgia is the biggest catalyst for [her] songwriting," and that she finds "there is unparalleled beauty in youth. Life is so rich when you’re young and everything and everybody lasts forever. I can’t think of anything more romantic than that."

Her songwriting style is rich in imagery and metaphor - a talent transferred from her poetic background. While growing up, Jessica received national awards for her poetry and prose, and in more recent years her songwriting is receiving similar praise.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Jessica Leigh

Releases

Summerland
Year: 2021
Type: EP

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