January 20, 2009
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Leslie Sloan aka Miss Leslie has been playing country music for over 20 years. Last year, she released her first album of all original material – and all of it self-written. When I interviewed her, I found a woman who truly loves traditional country and has made it her goal to get that music out to as many people as possible. Here, she tells us that country music isn’t dead – you just have to seek it out. Miss Leslie’s kind of country is a wonderful meld of cheating, drinking, and heartbreak songs, all performed with heavy doses of twin fiddles and steel guitar. And she points us in the direction of several artists who are recording her kind of country, so we too can hear the moan of the steel and the cry of fiddle.
I’m fascinated that your introduction to music was through classical music and violin lessons. Your bio says you studied classical and bluegrass at the same time. At what point did you change directions toward the hard honky tonk of your music today?
I think that the 1980s turned my head towards country. I fell head over heels in love with Ricky Skaggs’ country stuff. I already loved his bluegrass albums with Ralph Stanley and Tony Rice. But I fell in love with country when Ricky Skaggs went in that direction. I was especially in love with Bobby Hicks’ fiddle playing. He was … is amazing. And that love affair just continued on – through George Strait and Randy Travis and the early Reba stuff. And all of that led me back to classic country – which is where I had to stay when the 90s came along and the traditional movement went “Gone With the Wind” with Shania and the rock-n-roll country movement.
You hit the Texas honky tonk scene at 14 in a family group with your parents and brother and sister. What was that like?
I loved being onstage but I think that I didn’t fully appreciate everything. I wanted to be a typical teenager and have weekends with friends but looking back, I’m glad I had the experience. I am one of the few people that can say that I shared my music onstage with my family. And we still do today. That’s pretty cool.
And what would you say is the most valuable lesson you learned from that time?
At the time, I thought that music was about practicing and playing the “right notes” and having good technique. Looking back, I now know that music is something that comes from a more genuine place inside – it is a way of expression. People always tell me that they wish their parents would have made them play an instrument. I strongly disagree. Music should come from inside of you. If it doesn’t and you don’t have a pull towards it, then it means you’re supposed to be pulled towards something else.
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January 19, 2009
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Miss Leslie is the real deal. There is no doubt whatsoever if she’s hardcore honky tonk or not. Hard fiddles, loads of steel, and lyrics that involve either alcohol or heartbreak. Usually both.
The set kicks off with the “My Give A Damn’s Busted”-esque tune “I’m Done With Leaving”, which is the perfect kiss-off tune. Miss Leslie’s songwriting is sharp, and the conviction in her voice even sharper. The second track, which is the title track, is a song that describes the entire country genre, particularly the older, more traditional part of it: no happiness, no light at the end of the tunnel, no hope, all heartbreak, and all alcohol. Miss Leslie sounds genuinely “I’m never gonna heal”-heartbroken. She’s still depressed and still drinkin’ like hell in the next cut, “I Can Still Feel”, which could be the direct continuation of the title track. The next track, “Hold Back The Tears” could be another chapter to the two previous cuts, only this time we’re taken several years into the future, where the narrator has been sitting on that same bar stool for several years, and she’s still drowning her sorrows. Miss Leslie delivers this one perfectly, with just enough strength, and just enough of that ‘I gave up many years ago’ feeling in her voice.
What’s this? On “I Can Get Over You”, Miss Leslie convinces herself that she can get over the man who’s leaving her, and even though she thinks it may take years, she still sounds certain that she will eventually get over him. She apparently changed her mind on the next track, because she’s pulled out the bottle again, and sounds completely void of hope on “To Get Through This Day”.
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