CD Review: "Leave It Alone"

CD: Leave It Alone
ARTIST: Sasha Colette and the Magnolias

Eight songs worth of genre-skipping folk, alt-country, and yeah, rock, Leave It Alone, the recent release from Sasha Colette and the Magnolias, only flew under the CD reviewing radar here because we lost our physical copy of the CD for a while. But make no mistake, dear friends, we didn’t give it away.

The Morehead, Kentucky-based outfit, combined with Bud Carroll’s guitar input and studio prowess, has put out a really great record on this, their third release.

Aside from Colette’s soulful, powerful (sweet, sweet) voice, guitar and banjo work, you get Carroll on guitar and keys (killer!) and Magnolias Jose Oreta on upright bass and Andrew Gillum on drums.

While Carroll recorded the CD at his Trackside Studios in Barboursville, adding so much to the sound “on the floor” and behind the board, it would behoove the new listener to not underestimate the Magnolias in their own right.

One of the things you notice is the almost rock song structure of the folk songs, with well-placed hooks, bridges and tight arrangements, most of the songs come in at the short side of three minutes; perfect for people with short attention spans. That’s pretty much everybody these days.

“Sacrifice” opens Leave It Alone with beautiful string-based orchestral instrumentation. “Sweet” is a soft, swaying number, with a little Moog-sounding synth and organ thrown in.

Colette’s poetic, lovelorn lyrics meet cheesy bar-based pickup lines on the song (“I forgot to ask if it hurt when you fell from heaven,”) and a rockin’ bridge ties “Sweet” together in short order:
“Oh, all these sunsets remind me of all these sunrises we stayed up late to see left your sweet song in my head.”
“Victory” is a somber, stripped-down acoustic number, and with Carroll on pedal steel, this maybe could be the real title track of the record.

“Mercy Moment” sounds like Janis Joplin singing with Led Zeppelin, one of the real standout tracks for its rock flavor. Everybody pretty much lets loose; Colette belting out the vocals (“I’ve been busting my chops trying to get us to the top,”) with Carroll’s riffage and stomping rhythm section, it’s a rockin’ tune and a good example of the tight song structure throughout -- just barely three minutes, it could be longer, but it’s perfect as it is.

The title track (evoking the sunny, uptempo alt-country feel on a lot of Wilco’s songs off Being There) closes out the CD, with Colette really opening up, it seems.
“If your momma left you when you were young and your daddy gets high on booze in the night leave it alone, yeah leave it alone.
‘Cause what good would it do if you were to cry me a river?
That boat don’t float/I say let the dead things lay
Leave it alone”
From the songwriting and musicianship through production and into the artwork and layout (ably done by friend of rockscene Jimbo Valentine), Leave It Alone really is a super tight, total package; something to be proud of and rock out for sure as Colette moves forward in 2011.

Related: Sasha Colette Can't Leave It Alone (Gazette article)

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