June 24, 2004
Listen to that Mission Bell ringing!
Are you listening to Leslie Costa? If not, you should be. Her 2003 release, "Mission Bell," is a lesson for all singer-songwriters who are trying to find their voice and capture it on disc. The 15-song CD brightly captures a beautiful blend of crisp production, clever lyrical twists and Leslie's stunning voiceča voice which hints at the likes of Liz Phair, Nancy Griffith and Mary Chapin Carpenter without ever losing it's own distinctive, lyrical beauty. The production is perhaps the most striking element. The piano lilt on "Thought I Saw Your Ghost Today" and the acoustic guitar on "The Harder I Look" are just two examples of where instrumentation sets up the song and braces the melody with grace and perfection. Atypically for a singer-songwriter release, it is the percussion that is downright note and tone perfect. This is particularly evident in the tempo change with "Fast Train" and "Hide Your Love." The latter was this listener's favorite with its understated guitar leads and mellifluous mandolin parts. On the song, Costa takes a well-known catch phrase (
think of the Beatles)
and makes it all her own. Lyrically, Costa has some clever twists and turns. What I found most engaging was her simplicity in turning phrases such as "Talking to myself when it's me and no one else" and "Everything is fine when you say you're mine." Such is the language of love and music. It's crisp, clear, poignant, understated and overwhelming all at the same time. Such is the music of Leslie Costa. This disc is consistently bright and engaging. The band hits its groove with the opening four bars on "Beacon Street" and drives home each and every song. While I would like to hear a bit more of her voice in the mix, I'll take what I can get, as it is all so satisfying. We should all be listening to Leslie Costa on our radios and players just as often as we can.