Spirit Of Unicorn Music 2021
One of the smartest American singers crosses genres frontiers to finally come into her own.
There always was a feeling that Leslie Hunt has been torn between her status as a prominent participant of “American Idol” and her position at the front of heavy art-rockers DISTRICT 97, yet, stepping into her fortieth year on Earth, the singer finally strikes a perfect balance between the two on the first of the pair of her solo EPs. Following her ensemble’s live album and titled “Ascend” – as signaled by the artist’s arms on the record’s cover – it’s an opus which is mature and playful in equal measure, marrying pop to prog and concealing sophisticated patterns, spiritual and cerebral alike, behind instantly memorable melodies.
And, of course, there’s this honeyed voice that, without a build-up, is poured into the listener’s ears, to the accompaniment of Leslie’s acoustic strum, once “Starting Over” opens the disc in a country fashion only to let electric licks in and reveal Hunt’s soft swagger under the piece’s effervescent surface. It will swell, to the further swirl of Wurlitzer and other ivories, on the boisterous, slider-kissed “There You Are” in which vocals reach for the sky before delving into the delicate, if sultry, “Your Wind” whose soul is soaring as well, and the piano-laden “Wolf Cried Boy” offers a homespun philosophy set to a deceptively simple tune.
Still, while these stylistic turns could be expected in Leslie’s personal repertoire, the same can’t be said of the deliciously Beatlesque, Mellotron-spiked “Right Here” where Hunt’s sympathetic band aid and abet her pipes, which channel the church solemnity in the reflective “Down The Road” until it rolls towards Appalachian freedom: the very ascend this artist’s been striving for for years and is ready to share in the name of love as “The Key” shall suggest in the end.
“I’m running out of ideas,” confesses Leslie in one of the songs here – but, of course, she’s being coquettish, as what’s on display on this EP is teeming with meanings, making one curious and impatient to hear what "Descend" is going to bring.