John Leslie’s newest track, “The History of Sugar,” sure is a complex treat – it’s a delightful fusion of jazz and Latin rhythms that’s just heady enough to give you a sugar rush. The song feels a bit like his journey of nailing down an artist name – a touch tricky to pin down, a bit complicated, but ultimately beautiful in its fierce unity. But let’s not lose track here, this isn’t about an identity crisis. This is about the music. But not just any music, Leslie’s music – and his foray into fresh sonic territories that genuinely deserve some of our time.
You’re barely into the track before it pulls you under with its luxuriant soundscape. Welcome to a universe adorned with ornate instrumentals where Latin beats happily brush up against jazz structures, like friendly neighbours swapping stories across garden fences. Leslie’s layered harmonies are the intoxicating breeze above that carries his emotionally-charged voice over this rowdy neighbourhood of sounds.
And jeez, that voice! It’s as smooth and lush as a fine port – warm, velvety, with a lingering hint of aged wood. Every word is perfectly audible, and each syllable is beautifully woven into the next, crafting a shifting blend of love, loss, forgiveness, but most of all, of sheer bravery.
Each successive listen amps up the perception of Leslie’s voice – it’s the sort that echoes inside you, and flat out rejects half-hearted listening. Oddly enough, even the quiet moments between phrases seem to vibrate with the unyielding, raw emotion of his performance.
It’s easy to label it a ‘love song’. I would, however, resist the tendency to limit it to that genre – there’s no denying that love covers a majority of this canvas, but flitting shadows of grief and vibrant resilience tinge this masterpiece, giving it an added dimension. It’s as if Leslie’s wordlessly flipping through a time-worn journal for us, laying out how one navigates the twisty, turny pathways of human emotions.
Clearly, Leslie’s music has blossomed from taking a more liberal approach in “The History of Sugar”. The production is indulgent but grounded, bold but humble. The song manages to widen its horizons and straddle musical paradigms, without tempering its intimate soul.
You could chalk it up as just a love ballad or a soundscape journaling Leslie’s journey post name-change. Maybe it’s a bit of both, or none at all. Certain music like this confidently defies classification. So, what *is* “The History of Sugar”? Sorta like the sweet stuff itself – comforting, essential, totally addictive, and might make your head spin before you even know it. But most of all, it’s like the comfort of a warm, well-needed hug. So, get comfy, folks. This one’s worth playing on loop.