Canadian singer/songwriters are making a big impact in and outside of their home country this year, and while most of the more notable talent to gain momentum has been young and inexperienced, some seasoned pros – like David Leask – are finding a new wave of traction as well. Leask’s most recent work, the single “When You Think No One Loves You,” is an unsophisticated ballad that takes a lot from 80’s adult contemporary standards without actually replicating any one specific artist or sound, but among fans of crossover soul music, it’s raising a lot of eyebrows and interest in the longtime indie pop composer.
The production quality of both the song and the music video are a little overly varnished for my taste, but not to the effect of minimizing the music’s somber elegance so much that it’s no longer an interesting tune. Frankly, I don’t think that David Leask needs as much help as he’s getting in this single – he’s got a really great voice and a simple style of play that works for him best when there aren’t a lot of additional elements being added through the soundboard. In this sense, “When You Think No One Loves You” is merely a case of polishing a beautiful piece that never needed to be cleaned up in the first place.
Leask’s vocal is warm and rich with a humble emotiveness, though I do think that it isn’t quite as loud in the mix as it should be. When I listen to this song, I can’t help but feel like there’s a component of his emotionality that’s getting lost in the master mix, and perhaps the only way for me to connect with it would be to hear the track live, without anything to interfere with the tone of the performance. The single is a bit underwhelming on this end, but again, not enough to make it a complete critical dud.
The piano is by far the most balanced part of this single, and through its heart-melting play it communicates a story to us that is all its own and independent from the narrative created by Leask’s lyrics. If there is one reason to give “When You Think No One Loves You” a chance this November, it’s because of its relentlessly enthralling instrumentation, which is bonded together much better in this track than it has been in similarly stylized material we’ve heard from David Leask before.
It’s hardly his best work, but “When You Think No One Loves You” and its music video are still very interesting releases that are likely to be enjoyed much more by Leask’s disciples than they are stateside newcomers to his sound. As more and more of the international spotlight moves towards Canadian scenes, I really hope to hear some new content from this artist sooner than later, because with the vast résumé of releases he’s cut in the past twenty-plus years never receiving the fifteen-minutes they were properly due, it would be nice to see him take advantage of this new opportunity to show everyone just how much he can deliver when he’s captured the perfect mood in-studio.