Spirit Of Unicorn Music 2021
Embracing arresting variety of self, melodious noisemaker from Illinois takes her listener to the dancefloor.
When Leslie Hunt stepped out of lockdown to present the first of two EPs that she planned to issue in 2021, the open-air breeziness of "Ascend" seemed to provide a stark contrast contrast to what the singer-songwriter used to do as a frontwoman for a progressive rock ensemble; when “Descend” followed suit less than six months later, it again couldn’t feel more different. Where, previously, acoustic reflections of simple life were at the fore, urban sophistication reigns now, the warm barefoot intimacy giving way room glacial mirrorball glimmer… only thinking so would not only be misleading but also disrespectful to the musician whose works usually hide a lot of depth. Created with the same team as its predecessor, this mini-album will reveal impressive profundity too, yet not before the record’s final sound have melted into silence.
Welcoming the listener to spin the platter anew, the scintillatingly spiritual, albeit deceptively homespun in sonic terms, balladry behind “Complex Heart” should turn out to be the link between the pair of Leslie’s opuses, while the strum of opener “Don’t Make Me Come Back There” doesn’t take long to bare a solid groove and lush strings, spiced up with a pinch of psychedelia. However, if her mellifluous vocals on the soulful “Quiet Mind” come rather unsurprising, nothing can prepare Hunt’s aficionado for the punchy funk of “Again + Again” that points the way to a time-defying discotheque which could happen in the late ’70s or early ’90s, or the contemporary R&B of “Big White Flag” that boasts a crunchy ‘n’ catchy riff on the chorus. The same vibe might get lost in the fluttery magnificence of “These Days” – translucently mesmeric as a folk-caressed serenade – but it’s there, in the chanteuse’s tone and tune, approaching the heights of Sandy Denny and Joni Mitchell, with conversational uplift rendering “So Many Times” a hymn to all things human.
As a result, “Descend” is a hands-down winner for Leslie: after that, Hunt has to emerge as an artiste of the mightiest caliber.