The seven song new release from New York State based singer/songwriter Leo Harmonay, LHarmonic, is his finest effort yet and boasts a title reflective of his idiosyncratic take on traditional singer/songwriter material. There’s no question that Harmonay is the product of a definable tradition and wields impressive command over its usual lineup of suspect tropes, but there’s an individualistic twist to his compositions setting him apart from his contemporaries and peers alike. His three releases thus far attest to an uniqueness of expression developing at an exponential rate and concurrent with his rapidly expanding musical range. There’s a myth that musicians and other artists create best in their youth, but writers and performers like Leo Harmonay give lie to that with each new offering. LHarmonic is his most interesting moment yet and he shows no signs of slowing down.
“Shine on You” begins LHarmonic on a positive note, absent any darkness, and the warmth it conveys through both his words, singing, and musical content is unmistakable. The simplicity is deceptive as the conversational lyricism of Harmonay’s writing contains implications only attentive listeners will pick up on and it’s well served by one of the EP’s most effective vocal melodies. He comes up with another evocative vocal melody on the song “Deep Ocean Blue” and the imagery befits the song very well without ever lapsing into cliché. His rhymes are natural sounding and never feel forced and the vocal melodies gain even more luster thanks to his relaxed, confident phrasing. “Heart Alone’, however, takes a turn into shadowy territory and the palpable emotions bubbling through Harmonay’s performance will affect all but the most cynical listeners. “Glorious Decline” continues and deepens the heavier mood of the aforementioned song while returning the EP to the direct musical structures of the opening two songs. It’s a winning combination and Harmonay’s dramatics are never straining for effect.
He mixes things up with the track “Rainbow Sounds” thanks to its introduction of electronic sounds to the EP and it complements his guitar playing quite well. Harmonay is clearly a performer and writer concerned with unified songs and that’s borne out by a vocal that slowly evolves full of wonder and soft edges. Make no mistake, however – this is a song that, like the others, has a strong musical spine. “Shine on You” reprises the EP’s first song with a much long musical work developing its country music affectations in a slightly different way and more expansive than before. LHarmonic’s final song is a live rendition of “Deep Ocean Blue” and the inclusion gives us a listen to how Harmonay’s material translates to a live setting. He’s an effective translator and it reinforces a point proven by the EP – these are songs designed for the stage and a live audience. The energy Harmonay gets from the attentive faces in front of him informs this performance and makes any adjustments to the nature of live performance quite enjoyable. It’s a worthwhile release with some moments of genuine beauty reaching far beyond the limits of so many contemporaries. LHarmonic is the sound of Leo Harmonay still working at his craft, getting better with each new release, and hungry to be heard.