I won’t lie. The first thing I noticed about Leslie Hudson was her striking red hair. The second thing was her keyboard (a Roland), that she was setting up while I was helping run cables for sound for last Saturday’s Kenmore concert. Clearly I’ve been away from mine too long because I really wanted to find out how hers played.
With new musicians you never know what you’re going to hear. With new musicians that Sooj brings in, you do know they’re going to be amazing.
Soundcheck and Leslie kicked it off with just a bit of Sisters and Sinners (from her album The Wanderlings Volume 2), a gorgeous bluesy pub in limbo frequented by the women of the Bible, and I was in love. You may not know this about me but I love to go blues dancing, and this was smooth smoky perfection. Thankfully she was kind enough to do more than just tease the sound crew with a taste and I got to dance to the whole song once the show proper started.
From the same album comes Carving Knife, fueled by bitterness sung by those forced by circumstance and emotion into the role of the villain. The dance floor is about the only place I allow myself the luxury of really feeling dark and bitter because I can dance through it and leave it behind, and this song is made for dancing to.
Nibble Nibble is inspired by Hansel and Gretel, sung by a very unapologetic coaxing witch. Those of you familiar with my music may be starting to see part of why I’m so delighted with Leslie’s songwriting.
The rest of the album is heavily myth and folktale based, and worth the musical tour through the history of Ireland.
The Rift can be found on Wanderlings, Volume 1 and it isn’t the song you might think. It’s about a warlock who carved out his own heart so as not to feel, and is sung from the heart’s perspective. Whatever context you wrap it in, this one hits me hard right now.
Tantalized is a seductive tasty piece of music to dance to, based on a shapeshifter folktale (as retold by Jane Yolen) called the Serpent-Woman. Leslie is really, really good at enjoying being the villain.
Like volume 2, the rest of this album is very folktale based with some familiar favorites and well worth a listen.
Stepping away from the folklore and fairytales, Leslie takes us Into the Mirror with her song Cracked which feels a bit like some of the music I’ve been writing or trying to write lately. It certainly resonates very strongly. I’d love to bring some of the fierceness of this song into my own music.
My Dear, My Doubt is a song I want to be able to sing, and do justice to. The whole of it holds meaning for me but for those that are link adverse, I’ll quote part of the first verse.
“Where are you when I need you
To watch me struggle through
Not to save me
I can swim
Just to bear a witness to”
The Redhead League is a concept album about nine red-headed comic book characters. Anyone that loves fan music (Filk) this one is for you.
Welcome to Eden is Poison Ivy’s song, and I seriously want to blues dance to this one. It’s super tasty, like most poisonous things are.
Unmasked is sung by the real Mary Jane Watson, a woman attached to her freedom unwillingly in love with a boy. A Spider-boy.
Feel it All is sung by Jean Grey, and as an empath myself, Leslie gets it, intimately, and writes it well. This is one of those “wish I’d written it” songs, but really I’m glad that someone did so I can listen to it.
I particularly like Children of Light. I know I’m not a hologram, but I still identify with the song.
“I am more than my programming told me I was.
We’ve a right to determine if it matters.
It matters. “
For Awhile is about a symbiont relationship, but to me it also captures some of that feeling of meeting someone for the first time that you’ve somehow known forever.
Empath is what it’s like to be me. Or, since we are talking Star Trek, Deanna Troi. Better, more beautifully than I’ve been able to put it myself.
“Your heart is an ocean
Your mind an expanse
A map I can follow without a glance
No I can’t shut you out
Even when I try to be lonely
An empath am I.”
This is a musician who has serious range. Stylistically, emotionally, topically, take a listen and you’ll probably find something to love.