Leo Sayer

Selfie

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The very title Selfie signals how Leo Sayer isn't content to trade upon past glories on this 2019 album. While he may not be above an occasional indulgence in nostalgia -- he celebrates the classic sounds of retro R&B on "Soul Mining," citing Marvin Gaye in the opening verse and Kid Creole in the closing chorus -- he's very much aware of the 21st century. That doesn't necessarily mean he's timely. The album's title track may find Sayer sorting through the wreckage of Brexit and he pointedly writes about "Refugees," but elsewhere he's writing about Occupy Wall Street nearly a decade too late. This slight delay accentuates how Selfie is a self-creation, the work of one musician toiling away at his home studio, layering track after track: he's not avoiding the world, he's just operating on his own schedule. That sentiment applies to Selfie as a whole. Sayer still favors pop so melodic it's nearly purple, but age has given him a few beguiling scars. His voice doesn't soar as high as it did on "Long Tall Glasses," he remains an optimist but shies away from effervescence, he's reflective without being morose. If the self-made Selfie can occasionally sound like adult contemporary music from the late '80s, there's charm in that too: Sayer is adhering to the well-manicured mainstream sound he helped create in the '70s, but he's engaging with the world on his own terms, resisting the urge to recycle old tropes. That's enough to make Selfie a curiously ingratiating album.

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