It’s not often we come across an album that can fit so many different moods. Whether it’s time to wake up, stay up all night, recover from an infamous break-up, or just wind down from a stressful Monday, Melbourne’s powerhouse soul sensation, Saskwatch, manages to pull all of it off in their new album, Leave It All Behind.
From the start, Saskwatch hooks the listener with a strong and compelling instrumental track, “The Delinquent,” that showcases the band’s tremendous ability to rock. The punching drum beat, organ, thick guitar riffs, and horns give you the feeling of being in an intro to a James Bond movie: You’re pulled in, on the edge of your seat, and ready for more.
After grabbing the attention of the listeners, the album opens up into a soul ballad, “Don’t Wanna Try,” that introduces the lovely and talented, Nkechi Anele, who leads the band with a hypnotic voice. She has a rich and full range to her vocals; whether juxtaposed with the piano, horns, or guitar, her voice flawlessly holds everything together. Although she’s singing about love–the lack of love, and unreturned love–there’s a hopeful resolving feel-good tone to her voice. It’s important to mention that Anele leads eight band members as the only woman in the band, and she impressively holds her own on each song.
That said, Saskwatch also proves that it takes more than a beautiful voice to make astounding music. This nine-piece utilizes its entire ensemble to showcase its energetic hooks and harmonies. Taking turns leading between the guitar, keyboard, horn section, and bass, and then backed by driving percussion, each member of the band is as valuable as the next.
Although a lot of the songs on the album are about heartache, they’re given to us with an optimistic sound of moving on paired with positive lyrics. It seems Leave It All Behind tries to tell us that one can never truly find love without getting through some pain. The album leaves you feeling as though you can get through anything and move forward to the better parts of life.
The album constantly evolves without dragging its feet, even though there are slower soul ballads like “Two Hearts” and the title track, “Leave it all Behind” (a Motown-esque, brassy number). The songs build up to remarkable outros that make you forget what’s ailing you in the first place; the sorrows get “left behind” somewhere between tracks 3 and 4, “Your Love” and “Coca-Cola.”
The title track marks the middle of the album. Leave It All Behind was recorded analogue, to tape, and seems like it should end “side A” here. The next six tracks mirror the first six, starting with another driving instrumental sound and then continuing where the first half left off. The Song “Only One” is very similar to “Two Hearts,” starting slow and soulful, but resolving to a catchy upbeat chorus by the end. The songs cohesively fit together. Listening to the album on vinyl would presumably make Leave It All Behind sound tighter and crisper than it already is, lending it a literal touch of the timeless vibe the music exudes.
Whether you’re like Saskwatch, in the southern hemisphere leaving winter behind and moving toward a brighter, warmer summer, or up north where the nights are getting colder and winter is on the horizon, be ready to Leave It All Behind with one of the most uplifting albums of the year.