Co-produced by Leask and Juno-winning multi- instrumentalist, composer and producer Justin Abedin (Jacksoul, Justin Hines), this collection marks Leask’s first full album release in over 8 years. “Underneath” ushers in a new artistic era for the multi-award winner who’s been compared to such master musical storytellers as John Prine and John Hiatt. Songwriters Magazine called Leask, “the most consistent Canadian songwriting competition winner.” Leask co-wrote 11 of the 13 tracks on the album, which was recorded in both Toronto and Nashville, and mixed by Grammy winner Chad Carlson (Chris Isaak, Jewel, Roch Voisine).
Since taking top honours on the BBC-televised National Rock School Competition in his native Scotland 30 years ago, then crossing the Atlantic to write, record and release three critically acclaimed albums (100 Camels (1997), Ancestor’s Eyes (1999) and Tightrope of Dreams (2004)) and garnering national airplay on radio and CMT, Leask wrote more than 100 songs for his new release. However, he attributes a 5-day immersion in 2012 at world renowned bass player Victor Wooten’s Music and Nature Camp near Nashville with bringing him back to the basics, literally and artistically, that allowed “Underneath” to take shape.
“Underneath” provides a look below the surface of life, love and the world with songs like the title track, “Underneath”, “Photosynthesis” and “One Second Look” shedding a unique perspective on relationships. Others like “Freedom by the Barrel”, “Ready to Buy” and “Breathing” examine social conditions such as war mongering, rampant consumerism and the struggle for peace amidst chaos. The title track “Underneath” also inspired imagery for the album, including an underwater photoshoot and a “speed painted” dove rising from flames, created during the first public performance of the song in the CBC building, Toronto. An album of road-tested songs, “Underneath” interweaves influences from both sides of the Atlantic in a genre-surfing journey that traverses rhythm and bluegrass, country and soul, roots and rock.
More than twenty years and 2000 gigs since moving from Scotland to Canada, Leask’s live performance of stories and songs has been honoured with the Mississauga Performing Artist of the Year Award. A gifted songwriting teacher, Leask has been a songwriting mentor in schools and conducted numerous workshops on behalf of the Songwriters Association of Canada. Always engaging, intuitive and generous as a performer, Leask will celebrate the release of “Underneath” with a matinée concert scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 17th from 3-6 pm at Toronto’s C’est What. Plans are also underway to tour across Canada in 2014.