Having heard Sonia Leigh play live in Bristol opening for The Broken Witt Rebels on a boat in Bristol. I was delighted to have the opportunity to review her studio album, Mad Hatter. The studio Album is an Americana ride down a musical rabbit hole. Expect a variety of sound and textures as we taste the musical elixirs on offer across the eleven tracks. Some are edgy, others, nostalgic some are sad. Like any great tea party, it is the combination and flow of sounds that makes Mad Hatter a truly wonderful listening experience.
Mad Hatter starts with Waste The Day, energized sound that pumps out the energy and fun captured by the instrumentation, The first thing is the voice it is rough and smooth, low and fall of emotionally driven contours. As we Waste A Day again with Sonia Leigh. The sound is always rooted in country, country celebrating modernity and we love wasting a day at the Mad Hatter musical mayhem. Now how to follow that let’s turn the corner swirl around 180 degrees with a journey in the Sky Submarine. The electro buzz burns through the country vibe as you stamp your feet and cheer on the dynamic vocal charms that capture the force that is Leigh.
No way will you ignore the title track Mad Hatter. It hits your listening senses from the off. Sonia’s vocals have the cadences of Mary Gauthier. As she sings She didn’t wish me Happy Birthday this Year. Guess that says it all. Then we go back in time the song tinged with sadness and regret. Time has passed but that friendship has never be rekindled. The story is told through Alice in Wonderland characters. Here again clever effects never overused but making a statement underpin the narrative of the song that is the purpose of the music. This is a clever, edgy track everything a title track should be. We explore the narrative of losing your own sense of reality.
The songs have something to say Diamond in the Desert is sharp with use of violins it is country that intrigues and pleases. We are lost in the desert in the company of the wonderful vocals of Leigh. The country vibe is deep in Shelter with the whine of guitars and percussive beats. Again Gauthier’s vocals are r-kindled and shaped by Sonia’s tones. The singing across the album is personal. The narrative shared are for you to explore and relate to. AS we get lost in Leigh’s world at her invitation.
Then we have a scuzzy, fuzzy crescendo with Jack Is Back. This track works brilliantly live. The sign of a great number is when it fits in an album perfectly. Drink deep from this number it is dirty, grungy and full of vocal rawness as you join Leigh for a swim in the Tennessee River because Jack Is Back. This is down the creek whiskey-fueled rockier guitar speaking number.
Closing out this album that has taken you the Mad Hatter’s table. Sonia Leigh cloaks you in music that rests in the world of country/Americana. Then breaks out with rockier numbers, pop-infused ditties and music that is blended with pure talent. As we taste the last morsel with the Mad Hatter we have rap-infused Mind on the Prize.
This is an album that your mind stays in tune with every number. As you travel down Sonia Leighs Musical Rabbit Hole with Mad Hatter you explore her agony and ecstasy. The light and dark of her soul and above all the contained aggression gives determined grit from the first to the last note.
EIGHTdoodle paws out of TEN …
- Waste The Day
- Sky Submarine
- Mad Hatter
- Walking in the Moonlight
- Diamond in the Desert
- Acid Rain
- Jack is Back
- Dead Mans Sunrise
- Mind on the Prize