Rachel Leep

Wanting More

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Rachel Leep Band's debut album, Wanting More, reveals a promising folk-pop talent in the process of developing a fresh and distinctive voice. While the band's music bears little in common with the similarly named Dave Matthews Band, the two groups are alike in that both weave an intriguing tapestry by surrounding a central musician/vocalist with disparate individual talents. Here, Leep's rich contralto vocals and soulful keyboards gain much from their interplay with Moses Murithi's versatile acoustic guitar and Jimmy Schultz's wildly eclectic African and Brazilian percussion instruments. The trio produces a sound that is mellow and reflective, yet upbeat and often energetic. In fact, some of the most effective moments on the record come in instrumental jam segments that demonstrate the individual abilities of the musicians. The anthem-like "Not Weak" and the whimsical "Orange Soda" contain impressive solos by Murithi and Leep, while Schultz provides an unconventional rhythmic foundation. On "Missing You," a beautiful musical setting of an Alexander Pushkin poem, Leep's piano evinces George Winston-esque flourishes which suggest a proficiency with the instrument that remains unrealized elsewhere on the album. But if her piano playing is perhaps more restrained than it needs to be, her vocals might benefit from a tad more restraint. Although her voice is distinctive and powerful, and it can also be quite beautiful and expressive, she has a tendency to indulge in unnecessary affectations that seem to impose on the melody rather than communicate it directly and simply. The songwriting, too, spradically betrays signs of immaturity; it successfully avoids melodic clich├ęs and easy hooks, but at times it seems rambling and disjointed. The music sounds as if it it was written to fit the lyrics rather than the other way around, and sometimes the rather unconventional meter keeps the melody on a short leash. This fault, however, is mitigated by the strength of the lyrics, which are informed but not constrained by the authors' Christian faith. Wanting More proves to be an aptly titled album not only because the title reflects the themes of spiritual longing and fulfillment that run through the record, but also because this impressive debut leaves the listener doing just that: wanting more.

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