Ginger Leigh

Ginger Leigh

Charge Laughing

There’s something both charming and disarming about the way the opening song here starts out with the words “I’m not so sure…”. In a world that sometimes seems to be ruled by swagger, a little uncertainty certainly isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Ginger Leigh is not a porn star, her web site helpfully informs us. Nor is she, as far as I know, anything to do with the sparsely attended movie Gigli which opened (or rather didn’t) recently.

What she is, is a young Austin singer-songwriter with an idea towards Elvis, Bette Midler and Madonna. No, she’s not a drag queen either. On the best songs here, “Walk On” and “It’s Your Voice” and the title number, Leigh shows a taste for the sexual metaphor–

“Left me hungry without any doubt And like freeze-dried ice cream / Well baby you melted in my mouth”

–that reminds me of early Kirsty MacColl. Leigh isn’t the singer that MacColl was (I don’t think very many people are), but her voice conveys a picture of a “modern girl” for 2003, marveling at the fact that, as Kirsty would have sung it and Billy Bragg would have written it, the girls she knew at school are already pushing prams.

Leigh seems to me a woman of ambition, but with eyes open wide enough to see that not everybody’s ambitions are fulfilled. When she sings,

“There’s a world waiting for me, or crumble me into the sea,”

she gives the impression that either would be fine with her as long as she has some grins while she’s waiting for whatever happens to happen.

There are enough strong elements here to make me want to hear what Leigh comes up in the future. Steady and assured, her songs are also admirable for their variety of style. Elements of pop, new wave, post-grunge and even a touch of trip-hop fly around like Queer Eye‘s Carson in a straight guy’s closet (so to speak).

As well as Leigh’s singing voice and the songs themselves, I like the treatment given the production (by Leigh with something called “Fresh Ears Production”). Some industrial touches (buried in the mix, but they’re there) give the music a kick that sets it apart from similar artists — who are sometimes too similar for their own good. Of her band, bass player Shiben has a nice touch on “Passion and Deception,” but “Freakshow” shows him not exactly threatening Graham Maby, let alone Robbie Shakespeare, when it comes to the rock-reggae bass line.

I’d like to see Leigh keep making records. Not just because I’ve been making traveling-music tapes lately and noticed sadly how many bands I liked at least as much as I like Ginger Leigh over the past few years seem to have vanished. Gee, I hope it’s not a curse. If it is, I apologize in advance, Ms. Leigh.

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