Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
The elements that make Leonard Friend swoon-worthy are many, but the dead giveaways are the newborn baby girl pink dress shoes that I like to picture Alex Feder wearing on his feet at all times. Should a house that gets smacked silly by a tornado and spin out of control, travel through time and delirium, landing upon the body and the high-rised head of hair of Feder, it would be the only way to get the kicks off of his feet. They would have to be boiled off, the feet shriveling up and leaving them empty, only upon death. Therein lie some of his power, but the crooner has a charismatic streak that leaves him seeming and sounding like one of those guys who's gonna have it made, no matter what his steps are. He's spent the past year living a surreal life of touring as Enrique Iglesias' guitarist, hanging out with Pitbull and learning from other professional playboys how to pull the babes, sightseeing all over the globe and transitioning his writing style from being heavily rooted in the vein of indie rock and roll to now crafting the kinds of songs that Robin Thicke and Justin Timberlake write. They are meant to get beautiful woozy on the idea that, standing before them is a sexy, thinking man, who can likely cook a fantastic, multi-course dinner and mix a mean drink, would be a tremendous father and a tender lover. The pink shoes reveal that all of these assumptions could be true and most assuredly are.
He is there for the taking, ripe for the picking, though the feeling oozing out in these vulnerable songs is that Feder's in control of these situations, giving off the vibes, sending out the signals, getting the ladies riled up in these softly-lit rooms and then breaking contact, leaving them all still in sway, under the spell he cast. It's a powerful drug, the one that he administers without even thinking about it. Any woman who doesn't melt at the first sounds of "Mrs. Friend," or here, on an amazing version of Alicia Keys' "Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart," with Jennifer Hall, Catherine Poulos and Leanna Araya as a choir of sultry backing singers, should have her head examined.
Leonard Friend music is the living embodiment of an alter-ego, or that fraction of a man that he keeps set aside for the times when it's keen to let it loose, when he sees and meets something that he likes, when he's not just fooling around, but wants to pull something real out of his hat. It's when he's deadly serious about the seismic shakes and tingles that are electrifying his veins and bones, when he knows that he's in the presence of someone special. The nervous energy comes out as confidence, as if he's suddenly been able to pull out the stops and unknot his tongue, make those legs work and see if he can make a love connection. Leonard Friend, the character, sounds as if he's been foolish in love since he can remember, getting torn to pieces by the prospect of that forever sort of infatuation and love. Feder sings on "The Year I Die," "We were old in those days and how we both fell together/I could have lived hardcore/I could have lived merry, merry/We were soft and stupid and 17, ready to settle down and get married," and we feel that he's proposed or been proposed to many a time. He gets caught up in the whirlwind of the sensations, swimming in the dayglow and the endorphins, and then he allows his pink shoes to take him away, off to burn through whatever is out there.