Leith Ross: Finding Agency in Vulnerability
This last month, Leith Ross released their debut album, “To Learn” in the midst of their first-ever North American tour.
The Canadian-born artist’s music is self-characterized as being “cheesy love” songs mixed with existentialist undertones. Reminiscent of artists like Phoebe Bridgers, Clairo, or Samia, Ross offers a mix of intricate and oftentimes acoustic chords overlapped with beautiful and rhythmic lyrics.
Ross’s trademark is arguably the intimacy of their songs, which they admit are typically written about very personal and specific situations. Oftentimes, Ross’s music feels as though they are offering up their heart to the listener with two cupped hands.
This vulnerability is what makes Ross’s songs so empowering, and what allows their songs to emotionally draw listeners in.
Ross writes the opening lyrics, “depollute me, pretty baby / suck the rot right out of my bloodstream” in their song “We’ll Never Have Sex,” which was initially popularized on Tik Tok. As Ross’s most streamed song on Spotify, the track exhibits what Ross does best: present their poetic lyrics in a thoughtful yet unapologetic manner.
Other songs like “Orlando” or “Ask First” delineate a sort of quiet anger. In those tracks, Ross’s distinctive vulnerability is present, but even under the guise of submission Ross’s lyrics betray a sense of finite and definitive opposition.
“You make up men / who break a bone to fix a heart / paint it nice and call it art” is what Ross writes in “Ask First.” With a melancholic tone, soft guitar, and complex lyrics, there is a clear sense of agency.
Last month, I had the pleasure of seeing Ross perform live at the Lodge Room in Los Angeles. Based on my personal listening, I would describe their songs as having a complex eb and flow of chords that seem to manifest in front of you, pulsing with unspoken thoughts and questions about unrequited love. Ross’s songs slowly accumulate like drops in a bucket, and suddenly, you turn around and are met with a tidal wave of emotional resilience and empathy.
Another thing about seeing Ross live is that it was very clear that they hold the inclusivity of the venue and audience to the highest standard (something that I do not say lightly, as a frequent concert-goer). I can confidently say that I felt very included and safe as an audience member.
Ross still has several shows left in their North American tour, and will be continuing to perform on the road for the next several weeks. Their album, “To Learn,” can be found here.
Photos Taken By: Grace Silverstein