I can't remember the exact day I came across Leo Stannard, but what I can remember is the moment I fell in love with his voice.
I was in my senior year of college some 4-5 years ago, living amongst the green hills of San Luis Obispo along California's coast. I lived about 5 miles from the nearest Target and a little further from Trader Joe's (my two go-tos). Instead of taking a quick trip down the freeway, I usually opted for the country roads. That route often reminded me of store trips back home where I'd pass greenery, farm animals — you get the picture. There's something about driving down a scenic road and blasting music that awakens my soul.
But back to Leo ...
One day, I got in my Civic, rolled down the windows, turned up the volume and drove. Leo's folk-gravel voice blared through the speakers and it felt like joy personified. If you know me, you know I'm a sucker for anything acoustic, but there's something about Stannard's music that was so genuine, so pure and so beautifully different than I'd ever heard. His music deserves to be blared through speakers for years to come.
Maratea opens strong with Stannard's emotional single, "Please Don't," but the album really kicks in gear with "Gravity," an upbeat song featuring UK singer-songwriter, Frances. The lyrics read like a love letter, further sweetened by her added vocals. "Whenever I feel far from home / Facing the world on my own / You are the calm in my storm / You are the light / You are the light that's guiding me," Stannard sings in the chorus.
After the subtle electronic undertones of "Moments," Stannard's quintessential guitar strums return for the heartwarming, "5 Years Later." It's a song that'll have you swooning and wishing it never had to end.
"Maratea," the song from which the album receives its name, is notably one of the most instrumentally driven of the bunch, adding yet another layer to Stannard's versatility. That is, until you reach "State Of Mind." The song is devoid of lyrics, yet it says so much. Stannard's body of work is so incredible, this song can stand alone and create just as much impact.
The album closes with "Lost," arguably Stannard's most popular song. The indie artist creates percussion by using his guitar as a drum in the music video, giving the song just that more punch.
Each song on Maratea is genuine, each note carefully crafted, every lyric sung with intent.
The album sounds like something you'd hear from Ben Howard circa Every Kingdom, yet so unique and mature it deserves a category all of its own. Stannard's lyrics are beautifully raw and alluring, I can't help but want to hear the entire album live.
I've watched several of his YouTube videos online and each time, I'm mesmerized by how engulfed he is in the music. The tapping of his guitar, the lyrics sung like pages from a diary.
The 22-year-old was clearly meant to perform.
Stannard is a breath of fresh air to the ever-growing singer-songwriter genre. His melodies and percussions are audibly effortless. His humility and passion for music is authentic. He's the kind of musician you want to root for. Just follow him on social media — guaranteed you'll feel like you've known him for years.
If I could only listen to one voice for the rest of my life, there's no doubt Stannard's would make the short list. Maratea is just another reason why.
Listen to the full album here: