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MUSIC REVIEW: LESLIE MENDELSON – If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…

| 30 April 2020 | Reply

Label: Royal Potato Family

Release Date: April 17, 2020

Rating: 92%

Reviewed by: Todd “Toddstar” Jolicoeur

Another new artist… well, new to me… hit my radar and just in time as I started to cull through my favorites while in quarantine.  One of the latest videos from Leslie Mendelson caught my attention and I kept going back to it, so wanted to take the whole disc for a spin.  Disc opener (and the video that drew me in) “Lay It All On Me” opens with an almost chaotic sound that shifts gears and allows Mendelson’s vocals to shine when the song shifts to the chorus.  The blend of guitars, bass, and drums in the background compliment the track and allow the lyrics and vocals take the lead and drive the track.  “Medication” is another cool track that leans on the poignant lyrics and their delivery.  Leslie’s vocals are hauntingly addictive and a joy to listen to, regardless of the lyrical content.  The rhythm section of drummer Zach Jones and bassist Lorenzo Wolff anchor the track with finesse.  The swirl of guitar and keyboard are a beautiful component of the track.  “Would You Give Up Your Gun?” slows the pace of the disc down a bit, but it allows you to digest the lyrics, which are punctuated perfectly by the acoustic guitar and Mendelson’s vocals.  This song has a sound and vibe that reminds me of early Indigo Girls, especially with the layered harmony vocals.  “I Need Something To Care About” shines, thanks to a beautiful piano interlude that drives the track.  The ghostly vocals leading to the bridge are a nice touch and help differentiate the track from of the others on the collection.  “Flesh & Bone” unfolds with an acoustic piece that leads beautifully into a perfect vocal that swirls a harmony of voices that carries us through the verse and to the chorus.  The ethereal feel of this track adds texture to the discs musical landscape.

Title track “If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…” is a cool song with an upbeat tempo that gets the foot tapping from the first listen and has you joining in on the chorus before you get to the second verse.  This feel good track has a great sound wrapped around a perfect message, especially in today’s social climate.  “All Come Together” gets things revved up a bit with a great cadence and Leslie flexing her range a bit and showing off different textures of her vocals as the song shifts between verse, chorus, and back again.  The guitar touches in the background on the track from Steve McEwan add depth to the track, as does the wall of sound vocals on the chorus.  “The Hardest Part” is another track that blends the sound and vibe of the disc with a new groove, as this song seems to be more “folky” than some of the others, as I listen through it.  The chorus is thick and the bridge gets a lift from the harmonica injection to the track.  “Speed of Light” has a monotonous sound to it as it moves through the verse, but the delicate vocal on the chorus grabs your attention and dares us to not listen.  The piano and vocal seem to blend as one throughout keeping the sound and energy consistent, even as the tempo shifts slightly at times.  Be sure to check out the awesome guitar work on the bridge of this track.  Disc closer “My Dark Peace” is one of the mellower songs on the collection, but somehow gives the song a powerful close that prompts you to start the disc from the start again and again.  While the songs vary in intensity of lyrics and the tempo & cadence shift gears, the stronghold is the voice – Leslie Mendelson allows us to ebb and flow between tracks thanks to her emotionally charged delivery.

Tracklisting: Lay It All On Me – Medication – If You Can’t Say Anything Nice… – Would You Give Up Your Gun? – All Come Together – I Need Something To Care About – The Hardest Part – Flesh & Bone – Speed of Light – My Dark Peace

Line-up: Leslie Mendelson (vocals, keyboards, guitar, harmonica) – Steve McEwan (guitar) – Lorenzo Wolff (bass) – Zach Jones (drums)






Category: CD Reviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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