BBC Introducing has a notorious reputation for finding upcoming talent that has previously remained off of the public’s radar. The BBC consistently finds musicians worth your time (think Alt-J, Florence and the Machine, etc.), and this week, showrunners have picked Leo Stannard, a long lasting favourite of mine. Stannard recently supported Rudimental on the band’s 2015 tour and is endorsed by the BBC, but if you need further proof of his talent, look no further than his new EP, Free Rein.
Influenced by many indie folk artists, Stannard has managed to create an electronic yet captivating sound with his husky, heartfelt voice.
The electronic element in Stannard’s music is a later development in his career. He was first scouted doing acoustic YouTube sessions in quaint cafés and empty parks. His online presence led to an invitation to perform in the 250th Mahogany Sessions. These live, intimate performances are the arena where Stannard honed his craft and first learned how to capture an audience without the distractions of elaborate production. Stannard has skilfully managed to capture this live emotive quality in Free Rein whilst also embracing the more electronic vibe of his various producers.
The album is composed of four tracks. Opening number “Lost” alerts the listener to the raw talent of Stannard’s vocals, which are subtly complemented by a thrumming beat. However, it’s not until the second track that you get a true sense of the artist’s ability and sound. “19” uses the set formula of a slowly growing melody, with ever growing guitar strums that are then added to by a jarring clashing piano. By the time you hit the chorus, Stannard’s heartwrenching emotion is almost unbearable.
When I first listened to this EP, I thought “19” was a pretty unbeatable track, but “My Friends Got Love,” with its silky smooth vocals and catchy quality, makes for the perfect melody. Stannard’s most endearing quality is his slightly unpolished style, and this coupled with the high quality of his lyrics and talent makes for a truly accomplished album. By the time you reach the final track, “I Need Time,” Stannard’s rudimentary acoustic sessions seem a distant memory, and you feel certain that you have discovered one of the UK’s most promising talents.
After this EP was released, Stannard’s presence in the music industry was really felt. It was no surprise, therefore, when his newest single “In My Blood” was released to overwhelming attention from critics and music lovers alike. Stannard’s soulful vibe has a hugely intimate feel, as he talks about those closest to him, yet he is not self indulgent. The listener feels a sense of kinship with Stannard, but not to the level where they stop appreciating the craft in the music. This wholesome track was overdue but utterly worth the wait. The whirling vocals perfectly inter- twine with feet-tapping drums and spine tingling piano chords to create a massively powerful record.
Whilst Stannard has said that finding someone to collaborate with has been challenging, you wouldn’t know it based on the success of his recent collaboration with Alex Adair. The pair’s remix of “In My Blood” brings a welcome uplifting element to the track, and the layering is emphasised to create a euphoric version that one could imagine playing on repeat. This is not the only EDM track Stannard has debuted. “Moments” is a recent collaboration with Kidnap Kid. The electronics are somehow delicate, which gracefully complements Stannard’s soft vocals to pen a heavily emotive cut.
Although based in a small village, Stannard’s use of multiple producers keeps him highly in demand. It is no wonder that the BBC is singing his praises. Leo Stannard has been a long time coming, and he was certainly worth the wait.