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LA’s Songwriter Leslie Stevens' Self-Titled Album Out NOW!

Leslie Stevens -- artful, dulcet-voiced singer-songwriter -- has earned affection from audiences and accolades from the cognoscenti for her recordings and live shows as a luminary in the Los Angeles music scene, starting with her run as the leader of the rollicking yet heartfelt Americana ensemble Leslie & the Badgers. In March, Leslie Stevens will embark on a West Coast tour - see full dates here.

Her third full-length album since embarking on a solo career is a masterful collection of songs that find St. Louis native Stevens venturing beyond the folk and country-rock styles that informed much of her previous work, even as she still returns to that sonic palette when it suits her lyrical explorations of love and acceptance, light and dark. Leslie tells Rock and Roll Globe:

I got so much joy out of the creative process of making this record. The songs were influenced by a desire to understand so much of the pain that was going on in my life at the time. Like many artists, I process emotion by confronting it in a song. The poet Hafiz says “Crystal rain falls from black clouds,” and I find my best songs come out of the greatest pain. I’d felt really trapped for a number of years and I just let myself enjoy the freedom and liberation and fun that was going into the studio to make this record with Kevin Ratterman. He is such a great producer (co-producer in this case) and that means being a sort of guide for your artist. He’s so free and it’s just great to be around him.

I almost called this record Cosplay instead of Leslie Stevens, as I wanted to reference all of the different states of emotion that we wear like costumes. We had these colors, 90s punk, radio country, 70s shimmer, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks, plus different folk traditions, and we sort of put them all together via the bottleneck of me.

There’s this mysterious way in which art takes on its own life even on the first day of recording. It’s always frightened and fascinated me how easy it is to get in your own way amidst the 10,000 choices. I wanted to drop all of that and stay out of the way to let something wild and fun arise. I wanted to have an intentional lightness around the creative process. This came from me noticing that when I’ve sung on records for artists* I admire and want to be like, I’d let go, because it wasn’t my work. I’d feel unattached to the outcome and I’d get really free results. So I took this with me to the studio, to see if I could not strangle the process because I cared so much. Isn’t that just like the lived experience of love? Letting go while being ok with loving something so much.

Co-produced by Stevens and Kevin Ratterman (My Morning Jacket, Ray LaMontagne, Andrew Bird), the self-titled release kicks off with the grand flourish of “Big Time, Sucka,” which resonates with the punch and pang of a vintage Roy Orbison tune while telling of the lure and pitfalls of pursuing fame and fortune in a seductive place like Los Angeles. Stevens has referenced her adopted Southern California home in earlier compositions, and the city’s diversity and musical history continue to inform her classic songcraft. Thus, “Such a Good Time Without You” beautifully echoes the sonorous melodies and relationship drama that fueled so many numbers by Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks -- artists who, like Stevens, immigrated to L.A. and found inspiration there.

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