Change can be a scary word, mostly because you can’t feel it happening to you until long after its taken place. The older you get, the more perspective you gain from who you were to who you are. Nealo’s All The Leaves Are Falling is a record that follows this thread. Throughout his debut album, Nealo takes the opportunity to reflect on his own story, conveyed through almost conversational and self-confessional music.
Setting the scene, ‘daSilla Interlude’ establishes the themes of escapism, the past and societal malaise as Nealo traces the exact moment he knew his life needed to change with the line “everything is burning time” resonating most. Falling into the gentle beat of ‘Under The Weather (Old Obituaries)’ Nealo weaves words like “my demons are on the welfare” with conviction. At the same time ‘Let Your Dreams Collect Dust Until You’re Desperate’ carries gut-wrenching phrases like “my life is full of broken humans”, both portraying an unrelenting social reality that forms the album’s backdrop.
This grittier side of All The Leaves Are Falling is contrasted internally with lines like “I haven’t popped a Xanax since my son was born” quickly followed by “I think I was only taking them because my heart was sore, I used to fall apart on my apartment floor” on ‘Xanax’. While ‘Angel On My Shoulder’ maintaining the sense of grounded reality but juxtaposes it through soulful harmonies.
This thematic push and pull are further encapsulated in the title track, featuring a scene-stealing vocal from Molly Sterling. Exploring the themes of death and change, the track finds Nealo at his most deft lyrically. The feeling of returning home to a city you love is quickly undercut by the reason, a funeral, and the symbolic falling leaves speaks of the cyclical passing of time. All of which is wrapped around stylised production that holds the collage of imagery, meaning and sound together.
And so it goes, All The Leaves Are Falling plays out like a great stream of consciousness. Moving from one memory to the next, Nealo navigates the tide of his past to create something that feels deeply personal, yet relatable, delivering a record that feels like a deep, meaningful conversation with the self that faces both the negative and positive and treats them in an equal light.