Heather Leigh “Glory Days”

Technically this came out a little while ago, but with the recent vinyl edition and Heather Leigh getting it up on bandcamp, I’m taking it as an opportunity because it’s one of my favorite albums from the last year. Glory Days is a record that harnesses the rawness surrounding the fear, confusion, and general sense of unease so many of us felt during the early months of the pandemic and channels them outward into a call to arms to let it all out and find ways to connect however you can because there’s no telling what comes next.

From the opening bounce of “All I Do is Lust” Glory Days demands attention. Riding a wave like a cathartic outburst, Leigh’s voice steals the spotlight as she repeats “All I do is lust,” hypnotically, over and over. Immediately you are enveloped in her world that is full of longing and hope, trepidation and creative hunger. There’s an animalistic tenderness flowing from a deep emotional loss. She keeps the void at bay continually throughout Glory Days, her voice a torch against the darkness on the ceremonial “In Fade.” That feeling returns on “Phrases On the Mount,” but more as a steely preparation for the pain ahead; a realization that, like it or not, tomorrow will be here soon and it’s not going to be pretty. 

It’s a rough ride at times, but there is gentleness abound on Glory Days. Garden hymnal “Island” lulls you into a restful state of comfort with sweet and melancholic drones drifting through the birdsong. It’s beautiful, captivating. Similarly, “Death Switch” plays out like a funereal dirge, hummed while your body is laid to rest in a field with birds singing and insects buzzing. Solace is found in strange places during strange times and “Death Switch” is a passageway into the angelic respite that opens “In the View of Time” before the shroud is removed and dystopian synth swells bring you back to reality. Haunting; gorgeous.

For decades Heather Leigh has made essential music that’s pushed the conversation forward and melted boundaries along the way. As she’s said to me before, she loves lifers and those of us who can’t stop the creative processes inside our brains, coming to terms with everything often plays out in our work. Glory Days celebrates every aspect of that without putting it on a pedestal. There’s a matter-of-factness to it that is organic and real. This is how things are, from moment to moment, and this is how we’re dealing with it. Promises of better days don’t exist here, just promises of other days and, in a world on fire, that’s pretty good.