Leol Drops “Time” Single  

Starting from the first beat forward, nothing is stopping Leol from sounding like a natural superstar in the new single “Time,” perhaps his most melodic and complete show of melodic strength thus far. Although the song features quite the minimalist aesthetic in terms of its arrangement, the vocal that Leol lends every verse is nothing but sweet indulgence, begging for us to come closer to the harmony with every word he utters. This isn’t the only song on his debut album worth looking at, but if you’re looking for a simple performance that essentially summarizes who this artist is from top to bottom, I don’t know that there’s another track as definitively personality-driven as this particular release is.

The hook would have been a lot harsher were Leol not utilizing a soft lead rather than something more assertive, and I think he made the right move here. Instead of pushing for the most aggressive look he could while still trying to straddle a poppy groove, he’s letting this piece look, feel, and play out like something out of the ‘90s R&B playbook, especially when observing the structure of the song through a purely compositional lens. There’s room for a new jack swing-style rhythm, but he doesn’t need nor want it – this is an artist who wants to take his time building the tension in the air around us, as to bring forth the most powerful of fever pitches when we’re expecting it the least.

When it comes to R&B, you’ve got to have a beat solid enough to keep up with the depth of your singer, and Leol has that in “Time.” He never sounds like he’s searching for something to lean on, and the bassline is never tasked with creating definition for the drum parts, the best of which, mind you, are already cutting through the melodic componentry like a hot knife through butter. Some singers in this genre might be fine experimenting with trap beats and retro pop conceptualism, but here we have a player who isn’t content to do what everyone else in the American underground is obsessed with doing in 2022, and the moxie it took for him to make his way out of the mainstream model with something daringly sexy is worth a round of applause on its own.

All Leol needs in the studio is his organic vocal talents, and I think that with these talents he’s going to develop quite the following around the country, and perhaps abroad, this year. “Time” has a little bit of aesthetical charisma on loan from every other song included on the intriguing LEOL LP this January, and if you haven’t taken a peek at the album in its entirety, I would recommend doing so as soon as you get done listening to this prime cut from its tracklist. Along with “Type,” “Time” is the best way of getting to know who this singer and songwriter is – and, arguably, to understand the potential he still has moving into the future.

Cleopatra Patel

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