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“Nomad” From Sasha Leonov

The indie culture in music has been holding up through 2023 a lot better than the mainstream end of the spectrum has been, and you don’t need to look much further than the new record Nomad from Sasha Leonov, currently out and available everywhere quality beats are sold and streamed, to see as much. Comprised of eleven songs that tend to run a little longer than the average radio-ready single would, Nomad feels like an extended inspection of an artist’s soul as envisioned from an outsider’s perspective. This LP’s greatest gift is its ability to give us a fly-on-the-wall perspective on the mentality and musical catharsis that this incredibly talented singer/songwriter so desperately wants to find. 

There’s a lot of elegance to the arrangements of “Not Coming Home,” “Adventure of Our Own,” “The Train, it Leaves at Dawn,” and the stealthy “Teach Me,” and at no time does it ever feel like we’re hearing anything that wasn’t deliberately mechanized to be present in the master mix. From the subtle clicking of the tempo as it creates a mad volley against the melody in “Teach Me” to the brittle harmonies in the frontend of “On That Old Train,” allusions to classic singer/songwriter standards ala “Flowers and Fields” and a slight nod to the melodic musings of peers in “Ignite,” there’s a treasure chest of intricacies to uncover in an afternoon with Nomad, which is something I’ve missed in the majority of mainstream albums to hit record store shelves in the last five months. 

“Crossroads,” “In the Quiet of Night,” “Still the Fire,” and “Ignite” have a cerebral feel to each of their narratives that makes almost every verse feel personal but relatable at the same time, and my gut tells me Leonov took some extra time to ensure this would be the case here. Duality is everything in Nomad – it’s what creates both tension and release in this material, and though some critics might think it a bit pretentious to go to such lengths to push his skills to the limit without really needing to do so in this offering, I think that it’s what will ultimately set this Sasha Leonov LP apart from any other he ever records. 

Though this isn’t the only singer/songwriter album that has had my attention in recent months, I do think that Nomad has just the provocative tracklist to hit the spot for a lot of college radio-minded listeners feeling bored this May. Leonov’s songwriting style is a hybrid of sorts, blinding us with obvious folk-rock influences while striking out with a reticently emotional tone that speaks volumes about his craftsmanship as a lyricist, and even if it’s a little harder for some to categorize, I don’t see why it doesn’t line up with the bigger movement towards surrealism in the pop scene. This is as abstract a sound as I want from his brand, and honestly, I believe it could be enough to bring him some of the international spotlight his contemporaries are ready to challenge each other over. 

Mindy McCall



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