Jay Leighton cites two different sources as influences for his second album Hours: his Dad’s record collection, featuring greats like Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones, and the grunge artists he listened to in his teens, such as Pearl Jam and Nirvana. Strange then, that his latest offering bears no resemblance whatsoever to any of the aforementioned artists. Even the acoustic, melodic Nick Drake, whom Leighton also cites as an influence, is not a good comparison. It makes one wonder whether the finished product is more the labours of producer Greg Haver (Manic Street Preachers, Super Furry Animals) than Leighton’s own work.
This is simply an observation, and it does not detract from the fact that the album is altogether quite pleasant to listen to. Leighton’s lovely voice swoops and soars over perfect pop melodies, the music has a familiarity to it, making it very listenable, but also, perhaps, a little contrived.”I wish I was Springsteen or maybe James Dean” Leighton sings on opener and lead single ‘Wish I Was Springsteen’, exhausting one of music’s best known clichés. The production is slick and accomplished, and perhaps at times a little too obvious and a little too much. The strings on the final two tracks ‘Sea Scenes and Skylines’ and ‘Painting Flowers’ are heart-wrenching, but diluted by the fact the other 8 tracks are also bathed in lavish string accompaniments, arguably unnecessarily.
Overall it all comes across as a bit trite, a bit Take That, something your Mum would listen to. Which is fine, except I’m not sure Jay’s intention was to sand down the edges until he removed every single imperfection. ‘Find the One you Love’ owes more to Mumford and Sons than the Smashing Pumpkins (Jay wanted it to sound like ‘Tonight, Tonight’) and even the pacey ‘The Devil and I’, my personal highlight, with its racing drumbeat and uplifting crescendo into the chorus, feels a tad, well, safe. The record is nice, but it is hardly reinventing the wheel, and is lacking the sort of bite that makes a masterpiece.
Words: Siobhan Nadja
Jay Leighton Website. Myspace. Facebook. Big Cartel. Last.fm.