Autoportrait is the name under which London based singer songwriter Leila Zerai is currently performing. She kindly sent over a couple of tracks from her debut EP "Songs For The Quietness" for us to check out. Having already featured on a compilation from the excellent Smalltown America label, as well as praise from indie guru Steve Lamacq, this EP represents the next logical step forward for Leila and as such carries a certain degree of pressure.
However as the distance chimes begin on "Song For The Quietness" and Leila's delicate yet strangely consuming vocals take over, its clear there is nothing to worry about and the hype is justified. The track is littered with odd samples and bleeps, and as drums are added to drive the song along you soon get taken away on a mystical electronic folky journey which certainly has its dark elements. "Awaken" in contrast begins with some lovely guitar finger picking which instantly whisks you away to a bright Summer's day without a care in the world. This track also lends itself to revealing the depth of Leila's vocals, which have quite a range in diversity, however it is her appreciation of tempo and mood which really help to set her apart from piers. Final track "Stinging" is a beautifully blended track which creates images of bleak and bright landscapes in equal measures, and will certainly have you captivated till the end.
More and more we read how every new artist is "different", and its certainly a word that can be overly used and easy to say, but with "Songs For The Quietness" Leila Zerai really has done just that. It certainly will not be to everyone's taste, but then that's what we like about it, she's pushing boundaries and has the confidence in her own musical ability and ideas. So if you're in the mood for something "different" (eek!) then you could do much worse than check out this excellent debut EP.
You can also catch Leila playing various gigs around London this Summer, with the latest being on June 28th at 93 Feet East.