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Swan Feathers

Leslie Mendelson

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Album Review

Leslie Mendelson has put in her dues in the songwriting circles of New York, building up a reputation and support within the industry before moving to an indie release in 2005. For her sophomore effort, she built up a strong set of compositions in conjunction with Steve McEwan, filling the disc with pop pieces that are at once lyrically complex and relatively lighthearted, a rare combination in the singer/songwriter format. There's a lot of similarity with some of the pop singers of the '70s in her delivery — Carole King, maybe Joni Mitchell. Though the bulk of the album is straightforward piano-driven pop, there are hints of jazz strewn here and there in her vocals, and in a few spots (such as "If I Don't Stop Loving You") a stronger, almost somber approach to the ballad in the vein of Jewel or her ilk. Regardless of the style, though, there are two elements that hold the album together. First, the songs themselves are all reminiscent of something, some earlier form, some previous singer. They're not quite the domain of others, but they're written using a lot of input from a set of timeless melodic motifs. Second, Mendelson's voice is a thing of beauty. She infuses emotion into the proceedings deliberately, but not so deliberately that there isn't a subtle whole. She purrs just enough to soften the edges, but not so much as to become juvenile. She adds a touch of breathiness, but not so much that it becomes an instrument unto itself. It's pure, enjoyable pop, unadulterated by the whims of the modern pop machines.

Biography

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '00s

Modeling her music after such '70s icons as Carole King and Joni Mitchell, singer/songwriter Leslie Mendelson began making waves in 2005, when the homespun debut album Take It as You Will expanded her fan base beyond her adopted New York City. One newfound fan was Joel Dorn, an influential jazz producer and record label exec, who helped Mendelson ink a contract with Rykodisc Records. The young singer then focused on a new batch of material,...
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Swan Feathers, Leslie Mendelson
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