words by tom johnson
There have always been, and probably always will be, central characters in the DIY scene who act like a sponge for greatness, without ever striving to be such a thing – and Russel the Leaf is certainly such a thing. An integral figure in Philadelphia, Evan M. Marré plays guitar in Katie Bennet’s wonderful Free Cake For Every Creature project, plays bass in Adult Mom side-project Birdwing, records bands, produces bands, and, now, cuddles all of those varying influences and throws out a brilliant new record all of his own doing. Literally. All songs here were written, arranged, performed and produced by Evan and, as such, what we have is a charmingly idiosyncratic collection of songs that feels something like paging through a friend’s most overtly dedicated and decorated scrapbook.
Perhaps best described as sweet odd-pop, the eight songs here veer between playful ditties and romanticised moments of elegant splendour. Bennet lends that soothing voice to the rain-soaked ballad of ‘Holdin’ Out‘, while closing track ‘Jogging and Walking At The Same Time‘ features guest vocal from his Mum.
Of course, such pleasantries would be somewhat irrelevant if the music itself fell short of the mark, but there’s more than enough charm here to really connect. Known for his prolificacy when it comes to songwriting, you can certainly sense such a thing, the songs pouring out of the speaker with joyous abandon, in much the same way as they seemingly fall from him. The result is a gem of a record; a faint, multi-layered pocket of warmth that drifts between playful exploration and straight poignancy – and we can’t recommend it enough. Stream the album in full below; it’s released today via Sleeper Records.