Leon Thomas’ ‘Electric Dusk’ Rolls The Tapes On A Consuming Life In Hollywood With A Cinematic Touch

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On “Fade To Black” off Leon Thomas’ Electric Dusk, lives a quote that is ultimately the foundation of his debut album. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Bones McCoy from Star Trek: The Original Series is the voice behind this clip, and the quote itself dates back to the 19th century via a letter from British politician Lord Acton to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887. In full, the quote reads, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” Here, “great” isn’t synonymous with behavior or quality, but rather, strength, power, and influence. Leon Thomas knows those three things all too well as a member of Hollywood, in both the metaphorical and literal sense.

Leon Thomas the solo artist may be new to some people, but Hollywood and the big life aren’t new to him. His time in the spotlight dates back to 2010, following a stint on Broadway, as he landed a role on Nickelodeon’s Victorious, a show that allowed him to put his acting and singing skills on display. By the time that series came to a close, Thomas was co-writing records with his then-Victorious co-star and now-pop superstar Ariana Grande for her debut album Yours Truly. That album, which will celebrate its tenth anniversary in the coming days, has six writing credits from Thomas and the credits would continue to pour in for him over the next decade. He worked as a solo writer and as one-half of The Rascals duo beside names like Drake (“Pipe Down”), Toni Braxton (“I’d Rather Be Broke”), Post Malone (“Yours Truly, Austin Post”), Giveon (“For Tonight”), SZA, (“Snooze”), and Rick Ross (“Gold Roses”).

A decade after that started, we’ve arrived at Electric Dusk, where Leon Thomas rolls the tape to explain how love in the hills has played out for him. With songwriting that proves why he’s one of the best in the industry, Thomas also crafted the album with the idea that it could be presented at the Electric Dusk theater he named it after. He isn’t just overwhelmed with life in the hills on “Crash & Burn,” he’s buried so deeply under it that a move to Mississippi, a state he seemingly has no connection to, and a fiery crash on the interstate sound like the escape he needs. There’s merely saying a relationship has reached its end and then there’s “slow dancing in a burning house,” as he sings on “Breaking Point.” Sharp imagery like this makes it so that Thomas is not only heard but seen and felt as well.

Though love is a dominant topic on Electric Dusk, the element of power stands right beside it. Aligned with Acton’s theory, Thomas seems to accept that power does corrupt, an experience he has as both a victim and a perpetrator. His sense of control vanishes on “My Will,” leaving him to write one final message to the world a request “no cat fights at my funeral” and not be “dressed up in no corny sh*t.” You’re initially led to believe that the song is about the loss of artistic freedom when it’s really Thomas holding a funeral for his playboy lifestyle. Money is his power on “Blue Hundreds” as he leads a rugged march towards a lavish night that could also be troublesome. Thomas reigns supreme in intimacy as he’s successfully corralled a taken woman on “Sneak” into consistently giving him her “sweet, sweet peach” for some “afternoon delight.” Though powerful men may be bad men as Acton posed, Thomas seemingly retorts that surrendering that power leaves one in turmoil. You’re left to think: to corrupt or to be corrupted?

On Electric Dusk, Leon Thomas speaks to those in and by the limelight – whether it be at its center, its edges, or just outside of it where many long to step into it for a moment of their own. Acknowledging that final piece is what makes Electric Dusk so captivating. It’s a message that’s about himself as it is one to others; a reminder that it’s never as good as it seems under the bright lights. Leon Thomas and Electric Dusk make an official entry to the R&B world that’s a bit reminiscent of Lucky Daye’s own in 2019 with Painted. Though both releases as more different than they are similar, in both cases, you’re left with the idea that a new mainstay in R&B has arrived. Leon Thomas’ fingerprints can be found in various corners of the music world over the past decade, but none were truly his own. Now, he has that with his stellar debut album, and ladies and gentlemen, there’s power in that.

Electric Dusk is out now via EZMNY Records and Motown Records. Stream it here.

Ty Dolla Sign is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.