Thursday, 19 February 2009

Leon Ware - Moon Ride

“Moon Ride” is Leon's first major label outing for over 25 years and, for me, works well on every level possible. Should anyone enquire as to Leon's age, he will respond with the simple, yet appropriate answer “I am timeless”. This is something that reflects the great man's inner nature, and also his music. For what “Moon Ride” does, brilliantly, is reconnect to his earlier work with Quincy Jones, Marvin Gaye and his Motown work. Also, his style on here is not a thousand miles away from what we have been used to since his own efforts on Kitchen Records. Leon steps effortlessly between styles and draws them close together for a very strong album, and one which, I believe, could be the most widely and critically acclaimed album of his career. I love every song. The trademarks that make this man unique are all present and very much correct. His signature chord changes and attention to detail are as strong as ever and vocally he remains undiminished. For the King of Sensuality, the funky yet smooth “Moon Ride” unveils the sexy delicacies contained within, and this will wet the appetite for the VERY 70s “Blue Dress”. This is right back to his work with Q, yet is still very much in the 2008 bag. Damn, this song is so cool and slinky it HURTS! “Hold Tight” rates as one of Leon's best compositions EVER. Sometimes his lyrics can make me well up, such is his talent for encapsulating the most important intimate feelings and expressions in a single sentence. The Spanish guitar and haunting synth are wonderful enough, but Leon adds his words to this and thus KILLS me: “moments come, moments can we just keep now... forever...I always flow through the day...softer, quickly fade away. Can we just hold tonight, make it every tomorrow...tell tonight we are here to stay. Come on, let's hold it was the last, this is the night which is the future...and the past...” Oh my GOD, he's done it AGAIN. This man is the undoubted genius I have always said he is, and should you need more proof there you have it. The radio single is the delicious Maxwell-like “Smoovin'” which also features the wonderful James Ingram on backing vocals. “Loceans” is another moment of sheer genius, the running water, the quirky keys and loose arrangement the icing on the cake. Words actually fail me on songs like this. There are two songs on here that devotees will be familiar with. “I Never Loved So Much” appeared on the Japanese-only “Deeper” album and was an instant hit for me; Leon reworks this with style and also works wonders on “To Serve You (All My Love)” which are given a Marvin-esc reading as he would have done back on Motown. “Soon” with it's flute and Latin feel also contains some very special lyrics which touch the soul. None of these songs are intended purely for your ears; they are for your heart. This song is straight from a classic “I Want You” production standard...the backing vocals are so perfectly in tune with “I Want You” and “Musical Massage”. Indeed, “From Inside”, with it's Spanish guitar, warm 70s keys and sexy arrangement is yet another high point. Though all tracks are high points. Though the album is far too short for my liking – at 12 tracks – the KILLER “Urban Nights” draws the set to a close...the 70s feel, the street noise and insistent bongos with the 70s keys are to die for. I say again, this is a set that should garner wide critical acclaim, and for me is lyrically the most sensual, beautiful and touching albums that Leon Ware has ever put down. How many people will not only hear this album but also LISTEN to it? Stop, sit back with your lover and a glass of wine, and give “Moon Ride” your undivided attention. You will be in the presence of such greatness that it will seriously move you. Mandatory.

Barry Towler