Real Home: Vinyl LP
Kiran Leonard

Real Home: Vinyl LP

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Label: Memorials of Distinction
Release Date: 19th April

Kiran makes that avant-rock-pop, it's a pretty British sound where hooky pop blends with dense and seemingly chaotic production as a whirlwind of sounds all come together. It's a little This Heat a touch early Lol & Creme 10cc, Gruff Rhys... just good crafted pop, pal.

‘Real Home’ is the new album by the Manchester-born, London-based artist Kiran Leonard. His sixth album proper (not including innumerable tour-only CD-Rs and short-run cassettes), since his precocious debut in 2013, ‘Real Home’ finds Leonardinvigorated by inspiration and experience, making passionate, literate, and mercurial music that explores displacement, love, memory, climate change, connections to home and more.

Encompassing songs recorded after moving to South London, ‘Real Home’ reflects on ideas of belonging and domesticity through folkloric, stream-of-consciousness songwriting. Across nine tracks, Leonard traces lived impressions of the household and the city, expressing sentiments of dislocation, alienation and stasis, but contentment too.

Infusing the avant-rock effervescence, terraced dynamics and visionary lyricism of his music with what he defines as a greater sense of openness, Leonard is as versatile, fervent and imaginative as ever on ‘Real Home’, yet his music is somehow more intimate, affecting, and acutely expressive. Shaped by dual considerations of simplicity and formalism, ‘Real Home’ is by turns beautiful, allusive, and ruminative, an album on which Leonard considers what his songs have resembled in the past and what they mean now.

In recent years, Leonard has crafted eloquent chamber music inspired by the likes of James Joyce and Clarice Lispector (‘Derevaun Seraun’), responded to contemporary politics and communication breakdown in the digital age (‘Western Culture’), and compiled solo works and ensemble recordings for a longform ode to Jonas Mekas and to one of Leonard’s enduring themes; home (‘Trespass On Foot’).

On ‘Real Home’, Leonard reiterates this abiding thematic focus yet ascends to new, different heights, in music of cathartic delicacy and dissonance where all the myriad dimensions of his work to date seem to crystallize.

There are sinuous songs about struggle and defying the pace of city life through drift and diversion (‘Pass Between Houses’), stirring songs of intense feeling and crescendo, described as a form of speculative detective fiction (‘Theatre for Change’). There are touching solo piano ballads (the title track), symbolic contentions with carbon capture and climate change (‘Utopia of Bog’), modes of experimental minimalism (‘Void Attentive’), and other profuse feats of compositional range, embroidered with wild tendrils of narrative and lyrical depth. A record to pore over, and get lost in.

Exemplifying the vast aesthetic scope of Leonard’s music, lead single ‘My Love, Let’s Take The Stage Tonight’ is inspired by country lodestar Hank Williams, Russian poetry and a late period love poem by William Carlos Williams. Yet for Leonard, the song signals a sense of accessible materiality, and is the product of a more linear approach to writing songs:

“My imitation of the great Hank Williams, in spirit if not in substance…This is one of the best efforts on Real Home at a song-as-object. Looking at it now I realise I was trying to write a song that made itself known as a song to the listener, and I wonder whether that’s crucial if you want a song to transcend its context. And that this is either accomplished through a total openness – by being inviting, by laying the tricks of the song out plain to see, as Williams and his many ghostwriters did so well – or by adopting a knowing aloofness, positioning oneself against the listener but letting it be known that that’s what it’s doing. In this song I try both, but mostly the former: as in, I wanted to write a song where every line follows on from the next.”

Imbuing the endlessly elaborate and inventive qualities of his music with a newfound streak of candid, clear-cut melodicism, Leonard has reached a special place in his artistry, on a record that feels familial, and expresses closeness. Assembled with affiliates including Lauren Auder, Otto Willberg, Jasper Llewellyn (caroline), Tom Hardwick-Allan (Shovel Dance Collective), Magda McLean (caroline, The Umlauts), Alex Mckenzie (caroline, Shovel Dance Collective), Isabelle Thorn (Dear Laika) & more, the recording process had a significant influence on the subject matter of ‘Real Home’, in sessions defined by close-knit camaraderie and artistic eccentricity:

“The theme of the home obviously recurs throughout the record; the album was mostly recorded in domestic spaces with friends, and the name of the album is Real Home. I like the qualifier ‘real’, like you’re getting past the cloak of the word and towards the thing-itself…[also] nearly all the percussion in this record was recorded on items from my dad’s shed (jam jars, sandpaper, blocks of wood, etc). Real home record!”

‘Real Home’, like anything by Kiran Leonard, is a record of dazzling multiplicity. Yet it’s a companionable prospect with a central premise; a collection of songs where listeners old and new can find a home. An album led by a scene; of Leonardstanding at the threshold, ready to welcome you inside.

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