Allison Leah premiered the excellent “what I’m missing” during the summer of 2021. At the time, PopMatters hailed the track as offering “brand new layers of enlivening production.” Indeed, the single ushered in a new era for the New York-gone-Nashville artist, morphing from her acoustic folk roots into an indie pop songstress. Now, “what I’m missing” opens Leah’s new EP, the weight of my heart, due out on 4 November. The complete package fulfills the promise of its lead single, with Leah bringing a sprightly blend of folk-pop elements to the table.
One of Leah’s greatest strengths is a knack for rhythm. The steady, percussive flow of “24 years down” accents its emotional core. The artist has had a knack for appealing to hearts with her lyrical efforts since her 2017 debut but has taken strides forward as a musician and composer since. “sorry for myself” makes the case for Leah’s strengths as a vocalist and performer, powerful delivering its sticky chorus with an “oomph” that matches its hearty electronic production.
“i gave you my number” is carefree, optimistic dance pop. Its cool sense of rhythm gives it a summery “windows rolled down” vibe that Leah navigates as well as heavyweight contemporaries like Carly Rae Jepsen. If “i gave you my number” is Jepsen, “constellations” is Swift. Cool guitar tones and echoing vocal layers paint this folksy drama in a way akin to how “Safe & Sound” made its mark. Finally, Leah wraps it up with the sweet, clap-along “better off numb”. Its comforting melody might make for a fine show closer, just as it does here in capping off the weight of my heart.
On her musical evolution, Leah tells PopMatters, “This musical direction feels like a natural progression of who I’m becoming, and collaboration and environment were the two of the main factors in the change. I grew up listening to both folk and pop and seeing the rise of artists like Maisie Peters, Noah Kahan, and Maggie Rogers who naturally blend these two genres has been very inspiring and informative of my own music. I’d always wanted to dabble in pop music and this was the perfect opportunity.”
“I spent the majority of 2020 writing with my friend Alex Bonyata (3/6 songs on this EP were co-written with him) and when we started writing something really clicked. We wrote the majority of this album in isolation so no risk seemed too big and we let our creativity run wild.”
“In January of 2021, the album was starting to take shape and we traveled to New York for a month to write and record at my dad’s recording studio, ‘Chiller Sound. This is where we got really experimental—we recorded the sound of ice on a pond, hit mugs with spoons, and recorded that to signify years passing in ‘24 years down’, and we even took a bag of ash from the fireplace, dropped it on the ground, and recorded this. This sound became the kick drum in ‘i gave u my number’. I’m really fortunate to have such a dream team that pushed me artistically and dove into my wild ideas with me headfirst.”
Regarding the EP, she says, “Even before I had a final track list I knew that the title of the album would be the weight of my heart. It comes from a line in the closing song on the record, ‘better off numb’, that sings, ‘Easy to get hurt when you feel so hard, now I’m less attached to the weight of my heart. It’s getting colder every day that I grow older and I, I think I’m better off numb.’”
“Each song on this EP is introspective, dramatic, and confessional, detailing vulnerable situations and how I process them. So I think it’s absolutely hilarious that this is the last lyric you hear on the EP. This song pens a tongue-in-cheek look at the five songs that came before it, but it’s also a reminder not to take yourself too seriously. Some situations that really used to get under my skin don’t matter in the grand scheme. This title encompasses each song on the record while serving as a reminder not to get bogged down by ‘the weight of my heart’.”
Leah continues, “Life has been wild and wonderful! I’ve released so much music, toured nationally and internationally, moved 900 miles from home, played dream shows and festivals, and am so lucky to have met such dedicated supporters along the way. This EP is a natural progression past Fly Home (2018). I’m different, the situations I’m living through are different, stakes are higher, and I leave nothing unsaid.”
“I think the ‘adventure’ that’s stuck with me most from the Fly Home EP is from a song called ‘Colorado’’. I sing, “I don’t know where my life will lead, I don’t know where this road is taking me, but I’ve got you in the passenger seat sitting beside me, so I think I’ll keep driving.”
“Yes, this is partially because I’m still writing a lot about coming of age, as seen in my song ‘24 years down’. But further, this lyric has been a sort of guiding light throughout my career and life so far. I turn to that song all the time and hope to keep the message of that song apparent in my catalog forever.”