Leslie Spring Sings & Swings + Raul Malo

Leslie Spring Sings & Swings

Yep that is the title of this fellow’s record. Sounds a bit naff but once you see the cover and listen to the music the name is pretty good. This cat sings and swings.

poster girl
the other Leslie Spring!

Leslie Spring (yep his name but not this Leslie who has a whole other kinda bounce goin’ on) is a bit of a dark horse, with references on the net to playing Prog and Metal along with being the architect of a talking AI software platform, kind of non-Apple “Siri” thing. Busy dude.

I found Leslie through a music software forum where he was touting the album he was mixing. I knew he wouldn’t get many listens as that place if full of Dub Hop Wub Wub Grime Step rubber children who tend to glaze over at anything that sounds like it came out more than 6 months ago. This was Swing. I didn’t expect to be impressed but I was. This guy can play and even better he can sing. Not super fancy like but he can get the songs out in a really pleasing manner far more often than not.

Leslie Spring Sings and Swings - Front
Leslie Spring Sings and Swings – Front

He was doing a crowd-sourcing fund to complete his record and with only a few snippets I decided to be in. I had heard a lot of nasty (try-hard) music in the weeks before and took a punt that this would a be a breath of fresh air if/when it came through. That it is.

Most of the songs are new, self-penned tunes that sound right in place on a Swing Record. One even strays into Western Swing/Rockabilly territory and does a great job at it. The instrumentation is really well done and the guitar is killer without ever seeming to show off or become a um, what you  might do with that other Leslie’s picture 😉

The vocals generally simply sing the songs and tell the stories and that directness and simplicity is a joy. Don’t get the impression that Leslie is a poor singer by any stretch but I get so tired of overblown Idol stuff that hearing someone simply sing is such a pleasure. Leslie is indeed a talented fellow.

Criticism: well in a couple of places vocals don’t sound quite right. On “Dream A Little Dream” (one of three standards) he changes to a different vocal style which immediately seems like he is duet-ing with himself and playing the woman’s part. I like the idea but his voice in these sections seems a bit off. Also the record doesn’t have a lot of bass so we miss out on the double bass. That isn’t really a drama tho as vintage era recordings don’t have any bass either. What is there is nicely mixed.

If you are a Lounge-tragic or simply want to add something to your collection that is genuinely fresh then definitely give this record a whirl at iTunes, Amazon, Google etc.

Raul Malo – You’re Only Lonely

Raul Malo - You're Only Lonely
Raul Malo – You’re Only Lonely

I found this at the markets just hours before Leslie’s album arrived in my Inbox. Raul Malo is/was the singer of The Mavericks who are and aren’t well named; because they were never tough but they carved their own path. If you haven’t heard The Mavericks then think Roy Orbison+Dwight Yoakam+Latin.

I didn’t know Raul had solo records. I was even surprised that I recognized his name as Mavericks were more my ex’s thing than mine but I saw the Live in Austin Texas DVD so many times I came to appreciate what good musicians they were. Raul stands out as while he is anything but cool but he can sing with such ease you have to love him. As you listen to more of his stuff you almost feel he could sing with Judas Priest after a few run-throughs and not make a fool of himself!

On “You’re Only Lonely” he mostly sings standards from a collection of Soft-Rock and Country artists like Nilsson and Willy Nelson. He even tackles a Bee Gees song and handles it with style. There are a couple of self-penned and one will get your paso doble shoes on.

Raul is one of only a few singers I know (not counting impersonators) who can sing Roy Orbison and make it sound natural. I don’t think he has the range but he takes the material and lets it flow out like he is totally comfortable. If you didn’t know it was Roy, you’d not think anything at all but what a nice song. Kudos, especially in a world of over-singers. This guy don’t dance (to borrow a Springsteen line).

You can have a look at the record and see the songs and even listen online and decide if you like this record so I won’t explain it all to you blow by blow but my feelings on this is that while the record can be just a tad safe it is overall a joy to have in the collection and a great dark-horse score.

I think of this as tired-driving-in-the-dark music. On the emotional scale I think I’ll file it between my “Best of” Glenn Frey and Dan Seals’ “In A Quiet Room” which are both nice records for when I’m getting frayed at the edges. Practically I’ll jam it next to The Mavericks so I know where it is.

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As you may have noticed, I have similar feedback on both of these records and that is because they both share the same strength of playing to the song and not to the trends. That an time puts them together for me. I love musicians who have the courage to do that and find it particularly welcome with the current fashion to make music and especially singing into a fashion/marketing agenda at the expense of true human feeling. Well done guys.

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