Last Saturday night saw the Darwin Railway Club swoon to the sublime vibes of NT singer-songwriter Leah Flanagan as she launched her new album ‘Colour By Number‘ to an appreciative home-town audience.
Not with full band but with some very special guest musicians forming a string quartet and keys, Leah swayed through the set, her exquisite voice descending over the crowd like gossamer, capturing all and sparing none. Powerful yet vulnerable, Leah is an artist that always wears her heart on her sleeve. It’s that vulnerability backed by excellent musicianship, vocal artistry and lyrical virtuosity that makes Leah so appealing as an artist, and so relatable as a human being.
Opening the evening for Leah was the inspired choice of young up-and-coming Prayer Corby, a singer-songwriter who is well on the way to reaching her full potential – gigs like this only serve to bolster an already formidable emerging talent. Along with the eternally lovely and talented Maia Peehikuru, Prayer provided backup vocals for Leah on several of her songs. With all-but-one performer on stage being female, Leah’s set provided an atmosphere of quietly-wielded feminine power to underscore her deeply personal works.
As to the album and inspiration for it, Leah puts forward the following:
“Throughout my life, I’ve experienced the lines and divisions that people draw to make their own conclusions about me: who I am, where I belong and who they think I should be,” says Flanagan of the album’s flowing, jazz-ornamented title track, Colour By Number.
“When you’re native biracial, you never arrived and you never left, and yet your existence is entwined with the story of migration. With this record, it’s me that picks the colours, stories and imagery that make up who I am,”
The more intimate sound of light keys and strings gave Leah’s music a much different feel at the Rails than it has on the album with full instrumentals, but by no means was the experience any the lesser for it. If anything, Leah read the room correctly for this venue, this crowd, this time, and it would be very special to hear her songs at full tilt on a large stage. We very much hope to have that experience sooner rather than later. To see what I mean, listen to her album here:
These songs are simply beautiful. Jazz-inspired in parts, deep-thought lyrics and melting melodies run rampant throughout. A standout for me is ‘Linen Girls‘, a smooth-as-silk swayer with definite hints of Carole King in musical and vocal style, retro yet absolutely contemporary. This one should be on heavy rotation around the country.
Leah showed last Saturday that she can command a room without dominating it, making for mutual respect between her, her fellow performers and the audience. She has earned her stripes as an artist and her professionalism shone as brightly as the exquisite copper-pink blouse she performed in – and as if to show that she does not take herself too seriously, Leah ended the night with a stunning rendition of Kermit The Frog’s ‘Rainbow Connection‘ to squeals of delight from the audience. Only a true pro can pull that off.
Here are some more shots from the evening – I hope you enjoy seeing them as much as I enjoyed taking them.