Kiran Leonard

Derevaun Seraun

Inspired by Manchester Central Library, and by Joyce, Camus and Lispector among others, Kiran Leonard's new album wears its influences lightly.

Kiran Leonard wrote and recorded Derevaun Seraun during a residency to celebrate the re-opening of Manchester’s Central Library. Written for piano, voice and string, each of the five movements covers Leonard’s relationship with a different author, all of whom are connected in some way with him and the library. Echoing Jeff Buckley in sound and the finest romantic poets in lyricism, the album is a brooding exploration of life and literature and how gossamer layers separate the two.

Opening track ‘Could She Still Draw Back’ looks to James Joyce’s ‘Eveline’ from his short story collection Dubliners for inspiration. The central character is a young girl thinking of moving to a new land with a lover. Leonard’s mournful piano and violin accompaniment conjure images of sadness and hope as he sings: “How can I still draw back after all you’ve done for me?” Reimagined for the modern day, the song becomes a tale of longing and uncertainty as Eveline wavers between the safety of home and the excitement of adventure.

‘Living With Your Ailments’ is a more grandiose affair, inspired by Albert Camus’ 1942 The Myth of Sisyphus. “It is an essay about taking the cards we are dealt – mortality, nothingness, uncertainty – and doing our best with them, in humour and optimism and in open-mindedness.” The fleeting ballad resonates with the more thoughtful works of Jim O’Rourke as music dominates over lyrics.

The album also looks to Henry Miller, Clarice Lispector and Manuel Bandeira for inspiration; the last emerges in the form of a ten-minute orchestral composition where music and lyrics are deconstructed to reflect Bandeira’s modernist poetry. It’s an intoxicating creation where both listener and artist become lost in the fits of heavier piano in between the gentler violin moments. Channelling Rufus Wainwright, Leonard’s vocals fly between delicacy and power – his voice has lost none of the emotional edge which brought him to attention in earlier works.

Derevaun Seraun is a complex album – it takes a while for some of the songs to reveal their appeal – but it’s a record that rewards your time and attention.

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