Ben Leece’s debut album, No Wonder the World is Exhausted, introduced a great new songwriter and also an artist in possession of a distinctive, powerful voice. It is that voice that is at the centre of Leece’s new single, ‘Come on December’, and that is not as much of a foregone conclusion as you’d think, given that Melody Pool joins him on the track. Pool is an impressive singer-songwriter in her own right, but her presence on this song came about mostly due to circumstance.
As Leece explains, ‘Last year I went into the studio to record what would have been the follow up to my debut album No Wonder The World Is Exhausted. It didn’t work out. Somewhat gutted and lost as to what to do next, Chris Dale and Melody Pool invited me to their farm in Quarrabalong, a place as beautiful to the eye as it is to roll out of your mouth, to make some music just for the fun of it.’
The result is this song, which is a song that simultaneously haunts and uplifts, and which is destined to be your next ear worm. It is also the exact right song for this moment in Australia and how we probably all feel about December this year.
Of the song’s genesis, Leece says, ‘Seasons are such powerful metaphors in writing. Each one automatically evokes distinct imagery and we all have very vivid memories attached to them. I have a few favourite summer songs, Hüsker Dü’s “Celebrated Summer”, The Hold Steady’s “Constructive Summer”‘ I don’t know where my head was at or if they were any sort of influence, but it just always seems that if we can make it through to Christmas we’ll be right once the new year rolls around.’
There is so much strength in Leece’s vocal on this track although he often performs with a band and seems at ease in that setting. When asked if he feels more exposed on a track like this, without a full-band sound behind him, he says, ‘I’m kind of an anxious person anyway so I can feel pretty exposed with or without a band. But I really enjoy the dynamics of both settings. I love playing with the band and having that interaction together on stage, but I also really love the intimacy with the crowd when I perform on my own.’
His voice is well matched to Pool’s on the new single; Pool sounds almost like the ghost of summers past on the track, whereas Leece is the voice of the present. When asked if this was intentional Leece says, ‘Chris as the producer was conscious of letting the production lend itself to the story. Toward the end of the first verse, there’s a vocal track that’s faint in the background that could indicate voices in your head and the guitar is played wonky against an electronic beat throughout to give the idea of push and pull, the man-in-the-machine type thing. In my mind, Mel’s voice is one of positivity, pulling the song along, but that may be just because I think the sun shines out of her bum.’
When asked if a Leece + Pool tour or album – or both – might be in the works, given how well the combination work on this track, Leece says, ‘I actually did open for Mel on a bunch of her recent tour shows. But maybe there’s some stuff on the way, who knows? I love working with Mel. She has this thing where she just makes you want to be better but makes you feel comfortable enough to actually get there. As far as this song goes though, the production is all Chris so whatever we do it’ll probably be a trio.’
And while some more work from that trio would certainly be welcome, Leece has been steadily releasing singles since his album came out – to find out when they’re released, you can sign up to his mailing list at https://benleece.net