Micah Edwards has today released his new album titled ‘Jean Leon’. The song ‘Water & Oil’ is that perfect gateway drug for the rest of the album. You know what to expect when that song tells you that you will never know what to expect. And it’s right. I was thrown for a loop. That quasi mix of soul meets blues meets progressive, all under the radar behind Micah’s magnificent troubadour voice.
The rest of the album is the same thing with totally different variants. All I can say about Micah is that he is original. He has found his sound. Or it has found him. A talent in many respects and a master of originality, Micah Edwards can guarantee you one thing: he will keep you interested. Isn’t that enough? Isn’t that how inspiration is passed along?
Jean Leon demands the attention of listeners with pristine retro-pop instrumentation beneath Edwards’ charismatic stylings. This project is a rare instance where you can expect to be enthralled with every track from start to finish. The golden-voiced crooner immediately hooks listeners with the warmth of his angelic vocals on the title track “Jean Leon;” dressed with the boldness of a pristine brass section, the sparkle of a vintage electric guitar, and the subtleness of buttery keys, this track personifies and confronts his parents’ dysfunctional marriage atop a contagiously groovy bass line.
The soulful crooner pays homage to the love he has for his wife on lead single “Girl From The Valley” with a tender warmth and gorgeously poetic lyrics. “Best I Can” is a particularly moving track inspired by the hardships his mother endured and how they impacted her relationship with Edwards and his siblings. His breezy vocals soar on this track, oscillating between angelic melodies to haunting whispers that tug steadily at the heart-strings. Edwards captures the most subtle nuances of the family experience on this album, and delivers an earnest recount of his past while looking to the future with bright eyes.
Steeped in complexity—disappointment, failed relationship, maturity, and underlying it all, hope—Jean Leon is the first studio album from “Mr. Texas Soul” himself, Micah Edwards.
Having explored a spectrum of neo-soul, jazz, lo-fi, and pop over the last two years, Micah’s smooth vocals lend themselves to many different styles and genres. But for his debut full-length project, a story about his personal testimony during one of the hardest years of his life, Micah sought to create his own sound. This sound was specifically inspired by his story—an amalgamation of what he loves: Jesus, his wife, Texas, piano, pedal steel, and his mother…mixed with things he’s sought to understand: brokenness, forgiveness, reconciliation, and his relationship with his father.
Micah’s family values were largely shaped by growing up in a large, mixed-race family on the West Coast. As Micah grew older and his family moved to Texas, that view started to be challenged on a regular basis, forcing Micah to reconcile what he thought he knew about the man he wanted to be. What do you do when the man you looked up to as the leader of your family isn’t who you needed him to be? When your family has been let down and hurt, time and time again? And how do you stop yourself from becoming that same man for your own family?
Bitter, yet uplifting—Jean Leon is a healing, soulful exploration of faith from Micah. Searching for answers from God while searching his own heart, you will understand who Micah is as a musician and artist from the unique blend of up-front vocals driven by bass and drums, supported with piano and retro-soul guitar, and embellished with soulful horns and twangy steel guitar.
This debut album is a nod to the artists before him, as a young virtuoso who understands not just the heart, but the musical precision of retro-soul and country music. Someone who pays homage to Curtis Mayfield’s brilliance of guitar in early Impressions records and Etta James’ almost conversational vocal expression, while embracing his classic country songwriting influence through calculated storytelling employing the fiddle and steel guitar. Someone who respects and honors Leon Bridges, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Marcus King, Durand Jones & The Indications, Aaron Frazer, Michael Kiwanuka—but leans heavily into the sounds of this particular moment. This is a daring explorer who has created a unique fusion of retro and contemporary elements to defy what has been done before and craft a new genre: Texas soul.