A recent discovery over here at Extra Chill HQ, thanks to Tim from Gardeners, has been the young soul artist Leone out of Rock Hill, SC. Leone released his debut EP, Angst, on February 1st, and it’s definitely worth spinning. It’s ripe with intergalactic funk, and it’s even more evidence pointing toward the creativity that’s bubbling up in Rock Hill.
Production-wise, Angst is really solid. It was recorded with Charlotte producer Jason “Jet” Jones, who engineered the entire project. Leone brought in some of his friends to play on the tracks, and they ended up with a well-rounded mix of live elements and studio touches. There’s an old school feel that flows throughout, and the production serves to accent that.
Angst kicks in with a spacey, synth-textured instrumental beat that helps to set the tone for the rest of your listen. Leone takes it a step further with a spoken intro from the Reverend Deacon Fly, who welcomes listeners to the ‘Church of Funk’, calling out to Parliament’s “Mothership Connection (Star Child)” with a line borrowed almost verbatim: “Put more dip in your hip, and more fly in your stride”. This shows us right away that Leone is aware of what he’s doing, and also that he had a theme in mind, sonically, while he made this album.
The highlight of the EP, for me,” is “Healing”. There’s just something about the way that Leone’s vocals sound over that beat, and the synth is especially pleasing. It’s a slow groove that invites a head nod, and might even make you want to dance. But at only two minutes and forty seconds, it feels too short. I find myself wanting another verse, if for no other reason than to hear that synth run again. They do let it run for a few measures on its own to close out the track, so I guess I’ll settle for that.
While the element of repetition works with “Healing”, it falls short with “Josephine”. At just over four minutes, it’s the longest song on the album. It’s guided by a repetitive beat that is reminiscent of something Michael Jackson would have sung over, however it would benefit from some more variety. It goes light on the synth, but doesn’t compensate for that by adding much else, save some funky guitar licks. In this way, it’s missing a touch of the intergalactic funk that is woven into the rest of the EP.
Overall, though, Angst is an impressive debut. Leone is only 23 years old, and he doesn’t come from a musical background. That means he’s very much still developing as an artist. If this is what he’s doing first, who knows what he’ll be putting out five years down the line.
Listen to Angst by Leone below.