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  • Writer's pictureZim Ahmadi


Leaism finally debuts with her album "Kesuma", combining neo-soul, alternative R&B, reggae and many more influences.


GENRE: NEO-SOUL/ALTERNATIVE R&B/ REGGAE/ NU DISCO/ CITY POP Leaism is a chanteuse of neo-soul, jazz, funk, alternative R&B. She is not exactly new to the music scene, having been making music to for quite a while, some of her first works she performed under the name Lea Ismail,where her music mostly revolves around Jazz pop sounds such as the song Langkah Baru. I first discovered her through a rojak sessions video, where the artist comes to mind a lot, vocal loops, soulful inclinations and interpretations to a nocturnal kinda pop. By that time she already rebranded herself as Leaism, which is a I guess a reflection of how she's taken her musical direction on her own stride, moving further away from corny jazz pop to more interesting productions and sounds.

She also I think did a couple of collaborations with Takahara Suiko of The venopian solitude, which is cool thing to mention considering that Ruviyamin and Kemat of the Venopian Solitude are involved in a lot of the arrangements on this album. Influences like Erykah Badu, Hiatus Kaiyote and like I said before, Kimbra were cited as very predominant influences. There's some very small but still present Fugees influence too especially in the more reggae tracks like Gerakkan Aku. Two singles came out of this album, Oh and Love, in 2018,and with this debut album's release, I let out a very relieved "finally". The two singles that don't reflect the breadth found in this album, but how much of Leaism's venture into her sound work and how much of it falls through? Let's talk about "Kesuma" shall we?

Leaism maintains a strong grip on her ambition of creating a soulful sound that suits her taste, but there some holes pockmarked here and there that stops Kesuma from being a masterpiece. You can find joy in the reggae-influenced tracks, amazing vocal chops in the pop balada songs like Getir and Oh. However the song turns out, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Leaism has that gruffy vocal quality that I find really appealing and that sorta holds the songs. But other than, the instrumental features on this album is cool, with Anep, Zairul Heri Azreen, and Azim Jenk Ali. Electronic R&B artist Leo Ari is also featured in the song Getir. The writing on this is pretty cool too, I think Lea has a knack of illustrating very dramatic imagery in her lyrics even in some of the more heart-rending pop ballads like in the son “Oh” There’s a decent balancing act here between pop and alternative, that makes Kesuma a good listen, but I can’t help but feel that there’s a significant dilution to what could be possible in some of these songs. Songs like Murka Jiwa feels held back from its intended rawness, Tracks like Darkside doesn’t have as much edge as I think it could have. As an album there’s a conceptual boldness to it, that doesn’t always translate to the production and the arrangement. Kesuma is still a solid listen, and there are still really fun and impactful listens, but as an overall album it doesn’t really hold much water. There’s a lot more blossom potential here, a lot more colour that can be expanded.

FAV TRACK: Smoke, Shadow, Gerakkan Aku, Hidup WORST TRACK: Darkside, Murka Jiwa RATING: 3.5 / 5 You can purchase Kesuma on her social media, @Leaism, on Facebook,Twitter, and Instagram. Listen to Getir:

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