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Leeland - Topic

Opposite Way Play

Sometimes lightning strikes twice. In Leeland's case, the same energetic and melodic output that garnered them a Grammy nod for their 2006 debut can be found throughout the group's sophomore effort, Opposite Way. No longer flying under the radar, Leeland cemented their sound by creating electrifying walls of guitar. Take the energy of the Rocket Summer's Bryce Avary and add the swelling sonic mastery of Keane, and you see the scope of the band's potential. The first single, "Count Me In," had critics and fans singing along with its infectious chorus. The title track was another gem, an invitation to take risks when following dreams. With few, if any, lapses in songwriting strength or production quality, Opposite Way is a showcase of everything that is right in CCM. ~ Jared Johnson, Rovi

The Great Awakening Play

Leeland Mooring is nothing if not ambitious on the fourth album by the band that bears his Christian name, and which also features several of his siblings. Despite the title, the effort is not a concept album about the religious revival of the 18th century or its successors, although in the lead-off title song Mooring addresses the idea of the spread of faith from one person to another. Rather, the great awakening the singer/songwriter has in mind is, more simply, the realization of faith itself. For the most part, the songs fall into the praise & worship category, with simple, often clichéd lyrics directed to the Christian God and describing the deity's virtues. What lifts the album out of the generic, however, is the music and Mooring's performance of it. He seems to have spent a lot of time listening to and studying inspiring rock performers such as Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, and U2, and he fills the band's arrangements with their anthem-like effects. The tempos tend to be slow or moderate, and the music, while simple in structure, is always intensifying. The guitars ring and chime (sometimes using the kind of sequencing favored by the Edge), and pianos and organs fill in the mid-range sound à la the E Street Band, with added echo and even strings. Over that, Mooring sings in his rich, if slightly reedy tenor. Like Morrison, he is not afraid to repeat the same phrase or chorus; if it's worth singing once, a dozen times is even better. And he sounds impassioned, genuinely in awe of his Savior. It's music of broad scope and sweep, meant to get big crowds singing along. On "While We Sing," Mooring changes the mood by recognizing the existence of poverty: "While we sing," he notes, "the hungry roam the streets." It's a late recognition of the responsibility of Christians not just to worship God, but to do good works. But Mooring and his friends and family will have to fit that around their musical ministry. If he recalls Springsteen in any manner, it's in his desire to perform seemingly forever. "I will sing unending songs," he proclaims at the close of the disc, and it's clear he means it. ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi

Love is on the Move Play

More than almost anything put out in recent memory, Leeland's third album gets to the crux of the Christian faith, and by doing so creates a truly transcendent experience for listeners. It's apparent from the first note that the band's namesake and head man Leeland Mooring has expanded the scope of his craft by ministering to both physical and spiritual poverty. Several tracks were penned following inspirational life experiences and moments where that poverty came to light. Leeland inked the title track, for instance, after he and brother Jack stopped to help a homeless man while they were (ironically) on the way to the recording studio. The songwriter's dedicated approach to the recording process took even seasoned CCM producer Ed Cash (Chris Tomlin, David Crowder Band) by pleasant surprise. Leeland takes some chances on this record, from GMA's Male Vocalist of the Year Brandon Heath guest vocals on "Follow You," to the Sarah McLachlan-esque ethereal sounds of "Pure Bride." All of the chances pay off in the end, resulting in a finely crafted album that never strays from its sweet spot. ~ Jared Johnson, Rovi

Sound of Melodies Play

There is something to be said for fresh approaches. On their debut disc Sound of Melodies, Christian alternative band Leeland brings a disc with flavor and dynamics. From the intro title cut to the very end the band delivers polished musical excursions' that are capped with well delivered vocal prowess. Fronting the band is 18-year-old Leeland Mooring. Besides musical chops what Mooring brings to the table are thoughtful lyrics and an amazing songwriting maturity. Cuts like "Reaching" really come to the fore at mid-song, while "Yes You Have" seems to derive from a perfect formula. The emotional vocals of Mooring really come alive here. It's obvious he's lived these songs. His heartfelt presentation is testimony of it. ~ Steven Douglas Losey, Rovi
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