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Style: blues-rock, country
Label: Skyelab Music Group
Home: New York City
Members: Leslie DiNicola ~ vocals
Ellis Travers ~ guitar/keyboards/percussion
Michael Cheever ~ bass
Angela Webster ~ drums
Jeff Hudgins ~ sax
Greg McMullen ~ guitar
Nailah Daaj, Shannon Guttridge ~ b. vocals
I was recently at an artist showcase of independent bands & found myself thinking about the different approach groups take towards their success & music, to which I was sharing/screaming into the ear of one of the performing musician's boyfriend who instantly agreed. Some bands play music that might be great for the drunken oafs at the foot of the stage but doesn't necessarily translate well to a larger audience, or at least a more sober or more mature one, let alone the tidiness of the sterile studio. These bands are aiming for an immediate reaction but not necessarily songs or a sound that is going to be lining them up for a Grammy. Albeit, some bands have a popular sound which might be drawing crowds but it has no life of it's own, being pure imitation, & though imitation might bring overnight success it doesn't necessarily mean longevity. Then, there's bands that have an age-appropriate sound, that is ... a teenager may play good blues guitar, but the grit that an 80 year old guitarist brings to the music will probably be missing, while a 60 year old playing anarchist punk music may not be the best representative of the movement ... however classy he is it's really a bit of a strain to watch 62 year old Alice Cooper sing "I'm 18" & "School's Out". Country-blues vocalist Leslie DiNicola has a sound that works both on the CD & comes equally alive on stage, plus it's as comfortable to perform now around the age 30 as it will be when she's older. It may not be the best music to crash against walls drunk to but will appeal to the discerning ears of a wide age bracket of wide musical tastes that very could lead to things better than sleazy bar tours & already has via her performances singing the National Anthem for numerous major league baseball teams. Though I tend to gravitate in this forum away from things that are not hard rock, the first time I heard DiNicola's music I was instantly blown away by its original sound. I've now seen her in concert & plan to catch her again. I'm that blown away. & I'll confess to picking what shows I go to almost snobbishly carefully. With a strong dose of blues & a bit of country, DiNicola fronts an easy-going rock band that creates a groove oriented foundation for DiNicola's deep voiced commentary on love & heartbreak, co-written with producer Ellis Traver who supports her from the guitar slot both in the studio & on stage. "Lay Me Down" is probably the bluesiest with an old-fashioned horn blues line a la B.B. King, only to discover doo-wop backing vocals on the following track & probably the potential single "I Wish" ... demonstrating the range of styles DiNicola & Travers pulled together in crafting her sound on this debut release. DiNicola's voice is just as comfortable with screechy blues guitars akin to raunchy blues quartet Swamp Mama Johnson (i.e. "Chasing Nothing") or to more soulful moments like early Sheryl Crow (i.e. "Now That You're Mine"). But, this isn't an album of woeful ballads but an upbeat collection of inherent hope against life's sorrow ... that you can sing along with, too, & want to. DiNicola has been compared to Janis Joplin, which I find a poor comparison. Janis was a belter who never fully used her voice like she could. DiNicola is a classy singer. It Resembles Fiction is one of the most exciting debuts I've chanced to hear this year. Albeit, the one complaint that I have is that five songs are far too short. Additionally, I'd recommend her to stay away from the rock, go for the gutsy blues which makes the songs feel like they could go on forever, keep the B.B. King-esque horns or in this case single saxophone player Jeff Hudgins & throw in just a bit of country ... because really, who doesn't like to hear a Dolly Parton song once in a while? & one day I hope ... no, plan to ... say "I knew her when" & we got drunk together ... or maybe something like that!
CONCERT REVIEW: The Delancey Club, New York, December 2010. DiNicola appeared with her five piece band during an artist showcase. Besides being one of the few concerts I've been to in awhile where the band or singer wasn't drowned out by an over-blaring guitar DiNicola & co. were, for me, the most distinctive performers that night. The audience went wild when a later band threw out some bland alt rock & jumped around like the geeky boys they are, but the audience turned their heads & payed attention when DiNicola went into "Jolene" by Dolly Parton. It wasn't the first time she caught the audience off guard that night. & she had a great drummer who with a fierce look pounded the skins with a steady beat that drew right from the legendary Moe Tucker of the Velvet Underground.
(featured on the Roman Midnight Music CD Reviews & Interviews podcast: episode 16 "Interview: Leslie DiNicola," April 2011, click here to listen)