Since it’s launch in December 2020, The Paul Weller Fan Podcast has been a celebration of all things “Weller” and so it is with great delight that we share news of the upcoming debut album release from Paul’s eldest daughter, Leah Weller.
The London born Singer, Model and DJ, has been immersed within the music and fashion industries her whole life and has developed a diverse musical knowledge, background and style.
I was lucky enough to see Leah live at London’s 100 Club in May 2022 – and it’s clear that not only is she in possession of a power-house vocal range – she has some stunning songs to back it up – and has a terrific young, live band backing her up too. A band that features brother Mac Weller on keys and Cass Cradock (son of Steve) on guitar with Steve as band-leader right now too.
What you’ll find below are her own words on where she is right now and what’s to come with the new album and live music (released on 21st October 2022). Find out more at leahwellermusic.com and order the LP here.
The story of Freedom…
Letting ego drift as beauty’s wide eyes look back, feeling the years that have passed tick confidence and tock contentment into every new day and finding a creative key in the nurturing support of caring others leads Leah Weller to the place she’s at now. Mother, songwriter, partner, daughter, performer.
A fourth decade beckons and for the music-diviner from Notting Hill, teasing out melody from life’s real joys, anxieties, relationships, let downs and let ups, Leah is ready to put the twists and turns of those energetic twenties into the purring poise of these assured thirties and finally release the album that’s always been in her: Freedom.
“I could and would always perform…”
….she says when pondering the question: why did it take so long? “But I was never that confident with the writing side, that’s come out in the last couple of years. It’s been a long journey to here, I have been through different deals, been unhappy in girl bands, but now I feel able to write exactly what I feel. I’ve sung in restaurants and bars, waitressed, modelled and DJ’d and all of those experiences give you confidence. You get confident with age.”
Time brings change and Leah’s adjustment from years of insecure growth, of portfolio-career finding her feet, to the knowing contentment of the now in which she lives, a supportive relationship and the magic spell of motherhood, have rung positive changes. Gathering nine, finely-tailored songs together for her first album with a drum beat of support from producer and collaborator, Steve Cradock, the collection speaks, much rather than screams, of finding the sweet spot between the need for hope, however naïve, and the truths that only experience can spell out.
“I still feel like I am 16 at times…”
“But it’s important to start being OK with not fitting into any kind of mould. Feeling like you should just isn’t a nurturing environment for creativity at all. It’s inspirational to see artists like Billie Eilish, whose game isn’t really just one thing at any one time. It seems like you don’t have to fit into one box anymore. I’ve taken that into writing the album, thinking ‘this is just a good song’, being able to flourish creatively and keeping things mixed, genre-wise.”
Growing up with two parent musicians, Leah falls into the happy but honest cliché of growing up in a ‘house filled with music’, yet a sense of seriousness hasn’t obviously rubbed off on the free-listening songwriter. Her love of sound is more than any interest in accruing encyclopedic knowledge. David Bowie and Prince vie for position on the sunny peak of her affections, whilst 2022 has landed her in the dustbowl of 70’s soft rock, picking the ripest fruits of country music and continuing to press play on playlists of the 80’s funk and soul that has been a constant companion.
Searching to find a location on the map for her own pin, Leah herself settles with ‘modern soul’ as a description for what it is that she creates, yet her album traverses musical landscapes more diverse than any single, descriptive bookmark. Opening with Freedom, the pastoral, spring-like, low-lit R’n’B sways between string-soaked crispness and the creep of rhythm section-borne, street-smart sass, a feeling that develops in the splendour of the second track, Wonder. Returning both times to the album’s recurrent theme of release, of engendering self-belief and tapping into the now, Leah Weller’s first album is given a clear sense of direction, identity and purpose from the start.
“It all started to come together during the lockdowns…”
….she recalls, “I just realised that that was the time to focus on it. Steve had heard some demos that I’d made and was instantly supportive, so we’d started working together, just teasing ideas before everything came to a stop. The first track that we ever did together was called ‘Change’, which was transformed by his piano playing. He made me hear something in it that I hadn’t heard before.”
Family ties are bound into the making of the album by spoken and unspoken, sung and unsung means, yet those connections occasionally rise to the surface, not least in Dive In, a brass and flute-infused, floating summertime song written with her father, Paul. Bound in the most precious of memories between the two of them, Weller Senior put the melody to his daughter and it was during the first, furtive session planned to embellish ideas and lay down the track that Leah imparted her life changing news. She says: “I had just found out I was pregnant and that was the day that I told him, it was a nice moment. The track tells the story of how I was feeling that day.”
Now with a beautiful, one-year-old distraction at home, the outside world may seem less important, yet Leah is still striving to match live performance to her studio experiences and take everything that she’s made on the road. Having had a mother who was a renowned singer (the inestimable Dee C Lee), plus finding a sense of determined, grown-up purpose, the deep-thinking, wide-reading singer-songwriter is ready to surmount future challenges with eyes wide open. It’s with respect for herself as well as all mothers and women making their way in the music industry that she takes those steps forward.
“It’s harder for women, especially when they have young children. You can’t just leave them,” she says, “I am lucky that get to stay at home more, but working mums just don’t get anywhere near the credit they deserve. I have a supportive partner and just love performing, so I’m looking to be able to be both a mum and the artist that I want to be.”
With the help of Steve Cradock once more as an endlessly inspiring and trusted confidante as Leah continues to find her voice, she is plotting in more studio time, even as her long-awaited debut emerges into the world, to work on more new ideas. Momentum is now on her side, so try to catch up or stand still and watch her go. She won’t be found waiting.
21st October 2022 – Debut Album – Freedom
Completed last year, Leah Weller’s first complete album follows a decade-long career on catwalks, in front of cameras and making dancefloors shake, constantly on the move and with music as a constant companion. Finding the escape route out of anxiety-inducing mix-and-match career moves with the stability of love, the slowdown of repeated lockdowns and, finally, motherhood, Leah’s race is now to be run at her own pace with a collection of songs set perfectly to her flow.
The album was recorded in sessions that started in 2020, between studios in Surrey ( Paul Weller HQ ) and Devon (Steve Cradock’s Kundalini Studio), Leah’s choice of first single from the album follows early hints of what was to come via sporadically released, teaser singles like Change and Something Sacred.
Doubt gave way to belief with the help of Steve Cradock who took a series of demos Leah had created and committed to cultivating her gift for melody and innate, eloquent lyricism, resulting in a collection of songs ready for the world to hear.
Sharing the news on social media, Leah said “I’m so excited to announce my debut album Freedom – it took a lot of love, tears and patience to get here and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it!”
You can order Leah Weller’s debut album here and check out videos for the songs in bold on the page below…
- Pale Blue Skies
- Dive In
- Call Me By Your Name
- Summer At Last
- Something Sacred
September 2022 – Freedom (Single)
August 2022 – Wonder
The assured, soulful grandeur of single, Wonder announced the upcoming debut album in perfect fashion. Whilst retaining the same seasoned confidence as Change and Something Sacred and produced again by evergreen studio craftsman Steve Cradock, Wonder’s soulful poise starts to tell the album’s story, of a person and an artist settling into an identity of her own design.
She says: “Wonder is one of the more recent tracks from the album, dealing with an egoic mind and bad habits of overthinking things. Why doubt yourself? Why give yourself a hard time for no reason? It’s cathartic to be able to write these things into a song, usually more so than to talk about it.”
July 2021 – Something Sacred
Written with songwriting legend Paul Barry – the three time Ivor Novello award winner behind massive hits such as “Believe” by Cher, “Hero”, “Bailamos” by Enrique Iglesias and “Let It Go” by James Bay – 5 times platinum single in the US!. Paul was also part of Paul Weller’s Respond record label in the 1980s as lead singer for The Questions, and writer for other artists on the label too).
Caroline Hajny directed the promo video, focusing purely on performance, with an injection of projected patterns and dramatic silhouettes. At the time of release, Caroline shared more details with PromoNews… “For Something Sacred we opted to go for a performance-led video, following the themes of growth, darkness and light throughout. The song has something so raw and powerful about it that we wanted to translate, starting on a very dark and silhouette-heavy journey, ending on a soft and vulnerable note.”
“We also made the decision early on to not purposefully accentuate Leah’s pregnancy in the video, which of course impacted almost every choice we made: a moving camera could have suddenly revealed everything, so could have too much naked skin; we ended up letting bold colours lead the way. Also hands down to Leah on that note for being an absolute angel to work with while doing the probably most demanding job there is.”
2021 – Shades of Blue with Paul Weller – Live on The Jonathan Ross Show
A highlight on another Paul Weller album packed full of highlights. Leah Weller co-wrote the song with her dad for his 2021 release – Fat Pop (Volume 1). Released as a single, they performed it live together on The Jonathan Ross Show in the same year and on the final night of the Spring tour at Brixton Academy in April 2022.
September 2020 – Strangers
Strangers was the second single that saw Leah work with Steve Cradock as a producer – with Angus Havers on board too.
Angus is a classically trained multi talented music composer who has composed for some of the biggest brands and performed on television and at London’s most prestigious venues. You can find a bunch of his songs featuring Leah Weller on vocals here.
April 2020 – Change
Despite the difficulties of lockdown, this song was written with Steve Cradock in April 2020 and released in the same month. Steve also produced the single (remotely).
April 2019 – We Just
A stunning debut single that deserved greater airplay on it’s release in April 2019.
The track was written with Nia V who created music with the likes of Krept & Konan, Stylo G Showtek, Pixie Lott, Wretch 32 and Afro B.
2020 – 4th Dimension from On Sunset (Deluxe) – Paul Weller
A bonus track from the deluxe version of On Sunset, features Leah Weller on Lead Vocals with Paul on Electric Guitar, Bass Guitar, Piano and Backing Vocals.
Jan ‘Stan’ Kybert is on Beats and Synth, with Charles Rees on Drums and Synth and Steve Cradock plays Electric Guitar. The song was produced, recorded by, engineered and mixed by Sine of 4 ( Jim Jupp – co-founder of Ghost Box)
2014 – Olly Murs – Let Me In
Written by Olly Murs and Paul Weller for Olly’s album Never Been Better. The song features Leah on Backing Vocals with Paul, who also plays guitar and piano.
2012 – Paul Weller – Be Happy Children (Sonik Kicks)
The closing song to Paul’s Sonik Kicks album features Leah on the bridge parts. At the time, he told Q magazine: “She sounds like her mum in quite an uncanny way.” Paul’s then five-year-old son Mac also adds a backing vocal to the last chorus. “He did it with the headphones on and everything,” Paul smiled to NME. “Then kept saying he weren’t happy with the way his voice sounded and wanted to do it again. A little diva!”
It’s a lovely connection to Leah’s current set up as Mac is now all grown up and part of her live band playing keys.
2014 – DAKS 120th Anniversary
DAKS, the epitome of clean-cut, conservative British style celebrated its 120th anniversary in 2014 – pulling in Paul & Leah to help showcase their anniversary collections. The initial promo video featured a duet of You Do Something To Me. I’d love to hear a full version of this one if it exists anywhere too. Lovely stuff.
In a follow up to their DAKS spring/summer 14 debut, Paul and Leah returned with an exclusive acoustic version of his 1993 hit song Wild Wood. The song was accompanied by a fittingly stylish music video shot on Brighton’s famous pier…
2000 – Paul Weller – Sweet Pea, My Sweet Pea (Heliocentric)
Taken from the album Heliocentric where it had the simple credit For Leah, this song was released as a single in August 2000. Sweet Pea, My Sweet Pea is a touching lullaby written for his daughter..