Leo Harmonay – The Blink of an Eye
Primary URL: http://www.lharmonic.com/
The Blink of an Eye is the second full length album from New York State based singer, guitarist, and songwriter Leo Harmonay. His critically respected debut Somewhere Over the Hudson laid superb groundwork for this second release, a hump that some performers struggle to get over, but there’s no sense of struggle in these eleven songs. Music and words alike seem to flow unbidden from Harmonay with an apparent naturalness that most performers would envy. Many of the songs are stripped down efforts while others make use of various instruments, but there’s an uniformity of excellence imposing its will over the production that presents its disparate elements equally and sounds thoroughly professional. He, likewise, avoids any self-indulgence. None of the songs on The Blink of an Eye exceed six minutes in length and most don’t go over four minutes. Harmonay isn’t out to wow listeners with skillful instrumental displays in lieu of actually composing complete songs. Instead, there isn’t a single song on The Blink of an Eye that doesn’t sound like a well-rounded musical experience.
“Up to You” kicks things off with a near-raucous blast of acoustic blues. The forceful percussion has rock solid timing and the gaggle of instrumental voices laid over the top of that base has a gently entwining quality. The electric guitar is quite obviously keyed into what the acoustic is doing and shapes itself accordingly. Harmonay’s lyrics mix the specific and general while using first person narration. It has the effect of keeping things open to interpretation for listeners while still sporting a strongly personal quality. “Washing Myself Clean” isn’t nearly as musically concrete as the opener – it’s clear that a song like this impresses listeners through an accumulation of effects rather than impressing them with one quality or a particular moment. Light percussion and jangling acoustic guitars form the foundation for “River Dancer” and it does trip lightly into the listener’s ear. Harmonay’s voice doesn’t bring the needed gentleness for such nuanced musical backing, but the relatively stiff delivery does loosen as the song progresses. “Gone Are the Days” is cast in a blues mode like the first track, but it is much more cluttered and chaotic, reflecting the narrator’s true interior weather and giving lie to the blasé, dismissive tone of the lyrics. The cutting distorted guitar rising up from the mix acts as a vocal counterpoint for Harmonay’s singing.
“Dirty River Town” and “Bridges” are a study in contrasts. The first is, arguably, the album’s purest folk song and makes few concessions to staples of the album like electric guitar fills and fluid percussion. The second track, “Bridges”, adheres to tradition while nevertheless taking a familiar form and dumping it on its head. The artistic inclinations of this song never interfere with its primary mandate – entertaining its audience and drawing them into its imaginative world. The album’s title song is one of the more expansive and creative numbers on The Blink of an Eye. Harmonay isn’t content with some straight-forward folk song here and throws a number of spikes and sharp turns into the tune that’s sure to keep listeners attentive and on their toes. There isn’t a single track of filler on the album and it displays an overall unity that suggests revisiting it multiple times over the years could be a rewarding experience.
9 out of 10 stars.