Leon Ware - Rainbow Deux 2LPBe With Records (UK)
The melodically adventurous soul of Leon Ware continues its expression in his final opus Rainbow Deux. The album features new songs recorded and performed by Leon before his health turned, leading to his transition on February 23rd, 2017. Co-produced by Taylor Graves, it has stellar musical contributions from the likes of Kamasi Washington, Thundercat, Ronald Bruner Jr, Rob Bacon, and Wayne Linsey. Because Leon was always writing, it's impossible to pinpoint any single moment of Rainbow Deux's genesis. Six of the songs go back to 2012/2013 and were released in 2014 as part of Sigh, a Japan-only CD collection heavy with Rob Bacon's tasteful licks and Wayne Linsey's piano vibes. The rest of the material comes from Leon's sessions with Taylor. The album was finished-up around August of 2016 in a back-and-forth between Leon and his go-to mastering engineer Toni Economides in the UK. Leon worked on Rainbow Deux with life's greatest challenge looming over him, yet it is one of his most focused and cohesive solo offerings since the 1980s. The entire record is a vibe: mellow, deep, and smooth as silk. The lyrical themes are eternal, and the music is elegant, soulful, and sensual. The hypnotic throb of "For The Rainbow" opens, coming on like a percussive, slow-mo house shuffle. The exotic "Let Love In" follows with its gradual-build island funk, intricate guitar picks, and sassy female vocals. "Sigh" is a stylish slow jam with serene guitars and polished drums. The easy-burning broken-beauty "The Darkest Night" is the centerpiece of the album with Kamasi Washington's lurking sax, Thundercat's signature creeping bass, and Leon's perfect, seductive sax-soul vocals. "Surrender Now" conjures waves of vocals to swell and wash over the glossy piano, subtly bumping hip-hop drums, and bubbling synth-bass stabs. "Summer Is Her Name" has Kamasi's effortless, melancholic sunshine sax give way to rising tempos and propulsive rhythms. "Are You Ready" sees a nimble groove of piano and synth rolling around Theo Croker's sensual trumpet playing. With lush G-Funk sensibilities "Streets (Keep Me Runnin')" sounds like a lost Dam-Funk produced gem. "Samba Dreams" is the first of two tracks that bring a little Rio magic to Rainbow Deux. "Let's Go Deep" is a dreamy, between-the-sheets quiet storm anthem and a real showcase for Leon's vocals. The dripping, honeyed harp-funk of "We Should Be Laughin'" marks the star turn of the brilliant Kimbra. Warm synths radiate shuffling samba soul on "Wishful Thinking" as those Brazilian rhythms return to bring Rainbow Deux to a close. 140 gram vinyl; gatefold sleeve with printed inner sleeves.