Based out of the New York City area and its surrounding environs, Leo Harmonay isn’t looking to reinvent the wheel with his second full length release The Blink of an Eye. This singer/songwriter, instead, takes apparent aim at refurbishing and strengthening traditional songwriting and musicianship with his individual experiences and skills. Despite the relative familiarity of his approach, the eleven songs on his new album achieve an uniqueness thanks his one of a kind poetic voice and the seamless union between his music, voice, and lyrical content. The collection is immaculately produced and, if properly considered, it isn’t difficult to discern from the track listing alone just how much care and effort Harmonay has taken to assemble this album for maximum effect.
“Up to You” begins the album with a moody, mid-tempo march and a decidedly blue haze hanging over the instrumentation and vocals. Harmonay has an appealingly laconic vocal style and never seems impatient to deliver the lyrics – instead, he perceptibly heightens the drama by elongating each line just enough to pull listeners deeper into the song. The second track “River Dancer” is a little musically busier than the opener, as it title perhaps implies, but more subtle overall. There is much more of a focus on atmosphere building here without ever belaboring the effort. Wisps of electric guitar come flickering out of the mix at key points accentuating Harmonay’s base acoustic guitar work and additionally lightly placed touches help further flesh out the song. Banjo even finds its way into the album’s mix on the track “Washing Myself Clean”, but the dominant feel of this song is much more ethereal than earlier numbers. Harmonay’s vocal underscores that feel through its gentle application of force and the production touches surrounding it.
The bluesier side of Harmonay’s songwriting talents re-emerges on the song “Gone Are the Days”. It also possesses a lightly ramshackle sound that never risks falling apart, but gives the song a relaxed, loose-limbed quality instead. Harmonay’s singing has great strength here, but he sings each line differently than the last showing great attentiveness to his lyrics and knows when to modulate his phrasing for effect. “Dirty River Town” is a little jauntier compared to its predecessor and returns Harmonay to much more straight-forward, traditional sounding folk songs. It’s one of the album’s shorter songs, as well, and the compression required to share his narrative without wasting a single word or note makes it one of the album’s sleeper gems. The album’s title track has some theatrical aspects that are impossible to ignore, but rippling cymbal crashes and unexpected changes never obscure the core strengths distinguishing the tune. There’s great thoughtfulness here that The Blink of an Eye shares as a whole. Leo Harmonay is working within long-standing musical traditions here, but he pours old wine into new bottles thanks to his ability to transmute those influences through his own vision and produce something uniquely his own. His sophomore release shows an artist whose confidence is growing as he continues deepening and perfecting his craft.
9 out of 10 stars.