My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Miss Leslie – ‘Lucky’

luckyNeo-honky tonk favorite Miss Leslie is ringing the changes with her latest, Kickstarter-funded project. Miss Leslie wrote 11 of the 13 songs, and the mood is a depressed one, clearly influenced by her recent divorce. This is a much more introspective and less hardcore honky tonk record than she has released previously, but it is a fine record in its own terms. She sounds better vocally than she ever has before, and the songs, while mostly downbeat, are mature and well written.

One highlight is the quietly melancholic ballad ‘I Don’t Go There’, with the protagonist choosing not to revive an adulterous relationship because of the pain it would cause all concerned. A pretty, soothing melody and Amber Digby’s delicate harmony do not hide the pain of loss. The wearied ‘Honky Tonkin’ Fool’ is similarly gently sad rather than defiant, not what I was expecting from the title but good in its own way.

The pain and anger of splitting is evident in ‘I Get The Bar’, another of my favorites, on which Miss Leslie’s own fiddle and the honky tonk piano give a more traditional sound. Here, the narrator is happy for her ex to take all their material possessions, as long as she gets sole use of the bar they frequented together. Her assertive attitude includes a nice little swipe at her ex:

I think you’ll be okay
Your friends like me better anyway
You can keep the bartender
And all the other girls you screwed
Cause I get the band
I get the beer
And I get the bar

But although there is a vein of wry black comedy running through it, this is no triumphant seeing off of an ex; the vulnerability of heartbreak remains at the heart of the matter:

You can have my heart
It’s yours already
Because it’s worthless
Cause it’s broken in two

Also with a sense of humor but much lighter in mood is the cheerful honky tonker ‘You Were Drunker than I Was’, which rehashes a series of drunken misadventures. The change of both mood and pace is very welcome. Also on the positive side, ballad ‘Fifty Years Ago Today’ is a sweet tribute to an older couple on their golden wedding anniversary, inspired by her former husband’s parents.

‘After The Storm’ contrasts bad weather with a failing relationship, with a wistful Miss Leslie ending up looking forward to dealing with the aftermath of two shattered hearts. ‘I Don’t Want To Know’ is not quite as good, but another slightly depressed ballad about struggling with the emotions of a relationship on the rocks. ‘This Old Guitar’ is a slightly downbeat song using a favourite instrument as a metaphor to evoke the sorrow of lost love, with a stripped down arrangement with just guitar and steel.

A couple of the tracks have little connection with country music. The bluesy groove of ‘I’ll Take What I Can Get’ is a bit boring, and ‘It’s Rainin’ Inside’ is a sophisticated jazzy ballad with strings which is extremely well done, just not really to my taste.

‘Outside The Outsiders’ took a while to grow on me, but it is an interesting, thoughtful look at the struggles of a lonely life. An accordion adds a faint Tex-Mex feel to the tune. A more subdued accordion is in the mix for ‘Angels That Promise The Stars’, which was written by Miss Leslie’s sister Hilary Sloan. Another introspective ballad with a poetic, somewhat obscure lyric about a troubled soul and gentle tune, assisted by Amber Digby’s close harmony.

The only truly outside song, the steel-laden ‘Nice Girl’ (written by Davin James) is a well-written song with unusual clipped phrasing. It is the lament of the woman who has been done wrong and is taking refuge in the kind of dive she wouldn’t normally be seen in:

This girl’s been too good too long
For a man who couldn’t see
A lady has the right to deal with loneliness
That’s what a nice girl like me
Is doing in a place like this.

Although it may be a change in style from her earlier work, this fine and clearly largely autobiographical record represents a maturation of Miss Leslie as an artist. It’s well worth checking out.

Grade: A-

Available from Miss Leslie’s website.

2 responses to “Album Review: Miss Leslie – ‘Lucky’

  1. J.R. Journey August 14, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    I haven’t gotten this album yet, but I will. I have 4 of Miss Leslie’s albums and I’m a big fan. She’s very friendly and personable on facebook too. Go friend her.

  2. dannybarker10 August 15, 2013 at 2:49 am

    I am a very big fan of Miss Leslie. I will buy this one also to go with the other four I have . I thank you for all the music.

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