Review: LEVARA – LEVARA
Mascot Records (May 14th 2021)
Reviewer: Jason Hopper
LEVARA is a band founded by singer Jules Galli, guitarist Trev Lukather (son of Toto’s Steve Lukather) and drummer Josh Devine. All are seasoned musicians who have honed their craft and bring their expertise to a project that sounds nothing short of remarkable. Every song sounds like it’s tailor made for radio. All songs range from good to great. Not a clunker in the bunch, which for me is a rare thing to find.
A perfect example of how great this band is can be found in the song ‘Automatic‘. When a chorus comes down to a repeating of just one word, but still manages to sound enthralling, then it really is about the musicianship on display carrying the load, and this band has the ability to do just that. This is exactly what radio friendly modern rock should be sounding like in 2021. Lots to love here, from the underlying funkiness in the verses, to the time changes from Josh Devine, and the scream from singer Jules Galli at the end of the song (I do love a good scream).
The best song for me, and a predicted fan favorite, is ‘Can’t Get Over‘, a uptempo track with a super catchy sing along chorus. There are programmed double claps in the chorus that get me each and every time, ensuring that I will have trouble driving and listening to this song at the same time. I’ll be too tempted to take my hands off the wheel to clap along. Interestingly enough, the background vocals feature Steve Perry (yes, that Steve Perry) Admittedly, I would not know that without the bio telling me. It’s not like you can distinctly make him out, but being that there is a certain magic to the chorus, perhaps it’s his addition that takes this song into the stratosphere.
Other favorite tracks include ‘Ordinary‘, an uptempo track with a Rick Springfield inspired vibe to it. ‘Just A Man‘, a mid-tempo track with my favorite vocal arrangement from Jules Galli. His soaring, bordering on screaming, vocals makes his pain palpable to the listener and will no doubt be sung by anyone who’s ever been frustrated in a relationship, which of course is everyone. ‘No One Above You‘ is the sole ballad, with Jules’ voice boarding on falsetto at times and gang vocal effects underlying the guitar solo and outro of the song. Amazing.
I’ve mentioned the voice prowess of Mr. Galli enough, so let’s discuss the rest of the band. Trev Lukather makes his father proud by performing phenomenally on this album. The effects and sounds he brings out of his guitar, especially during the solos, differentiates him from other guitarists who would simply shred away. Drummer Josh Devine brings unique time changes to a bunch of songs rather than a straight forward rhythm. His changes are slightly progressive, but still maintain a pop sensibility. Unfortunately, it’s not clear in the press release who performs bass on the album.
The only critique I could see being made is half of the album has the same mid-tempo rhythm. That’s not to say that those songs all sound the same. Each one has parts that make the songs unique in their individual ways. This collection could have used one or two more tempo variations. As it stands now, this is a fantastic example of everything that modern pop rock should sound like and it would be a crime if this album did not receive the recognition it so rightly deserves in mainstream media.