Luke Leighfield & Jose Vanders Split EP [Review]

We had a chat with the brilliant Jose Vanders a few weeks back and she told us all about her latest project with her friend Luke Leighfield, which we obviously got very excited about. The split EP came out Monday(19.09.2011) and it has been on repeat ever since!

Consisting of 4 songs, they both cover 2 of each other’s tracks, giving them a unique spin. I will gather you have the intelligence already to decipher that Vanders is of the female-kind, while Leighfield is of the male-kind, offering each other a glimpse into their songs through opposite bodies. While this obviously doesn’t change the songs too much, they are both quite capable of that with their beautiful voices and canny arrangement.

Covering another person’s song is a delicate experience, the trust and care that is taken in each track is obvious. Leighfield kicks off proceedings with ‘Metal Detector’, which ebbs and flows slowly until swelling into the almost chanting “you will have lost the girl/you will have lost/you will have lost” as the piano picks up full pace with strings chugging away as the song climaxes.

Next up Vanders opens up ‘Every Day’ with her distinctly beautiful voice and the single piano chords of the introduction. In comparison to its original, this version is incredibly stripped back and gives the lyrics and melody prevalence. Stepping back like this allows the storyteller in Vanders to rear it’s head, with emphasis on all the right words and phrases, she can make you feel this song was written about you. As the song flitters out, the urgency and strength of the chorus dies down into outright vulnerability, until “trying to make everyday count” feels like a genuine endeavor.

Leighfield’s second choice ‘Man on Wire’ is a brave one and he doesn’t quite make it his own, but he doesn’t make a pig’s ear out of it either. It is a valiant attempt to make a song with so much character his, which is always difficult, but it still carries weight. The vocals however, feel more as though he is just singing the words, without much thought to where they came from or why they are there. Leighfield does bring some real urgency to the track though, which suits the theme of the song, almost accentuating the feeling of lost time.

The final song of the EP falls to Vanders and is the uplifting ‘Have You Got Heart?’
Possessing an infectious chorus which builds each time it comes around, eventually growing into the euphoric ending that involves, hand claps, guitars, xylophones, rock organs, drums and aptly, the backing vocals of Leighfield, it really is the perfect ending to a lovely EP.

You can download their duet (which they should definitely do more of) – a cover of Bon Iver’s ‘Blindsided’ – here. It is beautiful and if you didn’t follow up on Jose’s tip from our chat to watch the video – well we’ll just put it down here for you…

-Scott Kerr

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