Album No. 2 is always critical for wunderkind bands. Leeland certainly falls into that category. The Texas-based quintet debuted in 2006 with a package of pop hits appropriately titled The Sound of Melodies. Cool. Now, does Leeland have another one of those albums in it, and the capacity to produce others?
Or, would The Opposite Way somehow, sadly, artistically live up to its title.
The good news is Leeland does indeed deliver a sophomore album that, with the debut disc, lays the foundation for a strong catalog of faith-based pop. Like The Sound of Melodies, The Opposite Way, which will be in stores Feb. 26, opens with four really strong tunes: Count Me In, Let it Out Now, Enter This Temple and the title track. The main areas of growth in this disc are a mellowing of mood and a more temporal focus. The best synthesis of these elements is Brighter Days, which sounds like the sort of song you write 20 years into your career, not 20 years into your life, which is, basically, where we find Leeland frontman Leeland Mooring. His singing, songwriting and metronome-steady rhythm guitar provide a perfect platform for the other four guys in the group, including pianist brother Jack Mooring, to create around. These guys are flat out an exciting group that makes some great music to listen to and play -- can’t wait to see what from this album ends up as a free sheet music selection at Worship Together. We won’t be asking, “Whatever happened to Leeland?” anytime soon, because Leeland's got a lot going on.
Concert update: Brandon Heath, Robbie Seay, BASIC and Jason McAnally play Asbury College's Darfur HOPE Concert at 7 p.m. Feb. 29 at Asbury's Hughes Auditorium. You can get tickets online at the Ichthus website.