Leftovers is a constellation of love songs, each glowing with their own aura, guiding the lovelorn and lost through the darkness of night.
Each night, I listen to music as I get into bed. A good record helps get me to sleep quickly. A great record keeps me awake until its very end. Very often over the last number of weeks, my sleepy time music of choice has been Leftovers, the debut full length from songwriter Lauren Spear’s project, Le Ren. That every time I put Leftovers on, I hear it from tender opener “Take On Me” through to its closer “May Hard Times Pass Us By” firmly places it in the great record category. These ten gentle folk songs have also found their way out of the bedroom and into my waking hours. A study in the nature of love and relationships, Leftovers is a hypnotic experience at any time of day.
Recorded with producer Chris Cohen in a rented house in Portland, Oregon, Leftovers assembles an impressive roll call of long-distance collaborators who shared their contributions from afar. Atop Spear and Cohen’s bedrock tracks of vocals, guitars, bass, and drums, you’ll find the evocative cello of Eliza Niemi, banjo, mountain dulcimer, and fiddle courtesy of Kori Miyanishi, piano and nylon guitar from Cedric Noel, as well as support from Kaia Kater, Aaron Goldstein, Buck Meek, and Saltwater Hank (Jeremy Pahl). The spirit of collaboration and support that can only come from good friends is captured on “Friends Are Miracles” in the lines “We’ve been talking ‘bout our friends and / How they’re passing the time / Oh, they work to the bone and they don’t ask for nothing.” On the duet “Annabelle & MaryAnne,” Spear and Tenci (Jess Shoman) trade verses and lines as old friends. Reaching out across time and space, they offer each other solace and support: “I’m holding on like an autumn tree holds onto leaves / Though the road that I chose may be leading my own feet astray / Trust that I’ll make it through and that I’ll reach the end of my days.”
Like a mother who knows ”the way that it goes when the heart holds on to a feeling that is not meant to stay” (“Dyan”) and a mother-yet-to-be anticipating “the day [they] can say / I already love you,” Spear nurtures these songs, giving them wings to take flight so that they may take rest in ears that need to hear their messages. Leftovers is a constellation of love songs, each glowing with their own aura, coming together to guide the lovelorn and lost through the darkness of night.
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