By Luke Leighfield
Filling the niche of Britain's answer to piano-popper Ben Folds is this sterling chap: Mr Luke Leighfield. Like Folds (an idol, I'm told) Leighfield has never paid too much attention to what musical styles are of the moment, instead choosing to carve his own brand of piano driven pop songs. But comparisons to the American alternate pop legend should only be made with some care, because there's so much more to Luke than that.
For a start, while Folds' songs are full of intrigue and mystery, songs from Luke's latest offering 'Have You Got Heart?' wear their meanings proud on their sleeves: the sort of song writing that's gripping because it's so easy to identify with. Lyrical subtlety is never something Luke has placed high on his list of priorities and with good reason: he's created a style of no holds barred song writing that gets across his point in the aural equivalent of a flashing neon sign. I nearly went so far as to describe this album as 'communist' because it's so 'of the people,' and not just in sound: Luke has decided to pull a leaf from the Radiohead school of marketing and offer the album for free (or a donation).
Such a move just reinforces the overall message of the album (and a good deal of previous material from him) that music is about heart, not money or fame. It's a message we've come to cynically beat down without much examination, because for decades that message has been used to do the complete opposite. This album will light a glimmer of hope in even the hardest heart, maybe because the hard hitting, no nonsense honesty of the songs feel like Luke is begging you to have faith in Music again. It's like learning to fall in love again after a difficult break-up: at the time it seems impossible but then along comes the special one and then all of a sudden you're left wondering how you ever doubted. Music can have heart, and this man is on a mission to prove it.