After promising a departure from the prototypical pack with such tracks like "A Light Within" and "Rise Up," Low Leaf follows through on her word with the eclectic tapestry of Akashaalay. Described by the artist as a "spiritual tribute" to her homeland of the Philippines, the Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist wastes little time guiding us into a illustrative swirl of global grooves, acidic jazz and prismatic soul that yells rebelliously with socially tinged ambition. Most impressive is that it is all written, performed and produced by Low Leaf, and its DIY expressionism is able to pull out several stunners that have her stampede over her sonic soul peers.
From the recently premiered "Set Me Free" that collapses like a slow descending Slinky into a chaotic web of pianos and percussion, to "As One" (my personal favorite) and its jazz n' hop fusion and back to the powerful oceanic poetry of "Slaveless Master," Low Leaf is intent on urging independence and fellowship and her wails are valid. For a 10-track piece that is dotted with about three flash instrumentals ("Ascension" is superb, by the way), it's surprising how vast the set is as each song is firmly packed with little instrumental details and writing flourishes that its advisory that multiple listens are to be done in order to hear every sound, lyric and experiment take center stage.
Akashaalay is an attention-grabbing adventure and a thought process, a creatively honest welcoming, and an album with an edge that isn't interested in being buffered down. No trouble will you have hearing what Low Leaf has to say once you press play, but be sure to truly listen as well. There are many ways to listen to Akashaalay as it is available for stream and digital download via Fresh Selects Bandcamp spot and will soon be available on cassette (yes, you read that right) in the latter weeks of May.