1978 December

Sonia Leigh

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1978 December Review

by William Ruhlmann

Although 1978 December is Atlanta-based country singer/songwriter Sonia Leigh's debut national release (discounting the earlier independent disc Run or Surrender), she is anything but a neophyte, a point she makes on both the first and last tracks of the album. The leadoff song, "Ain't Dead Yet," is a statement of purpose full of country truisms sung by someone who's been around the block a few times; the closing ballad that is the title song makes it clear that the singer was born in December 1978, making her 32 on the album's release date, and that she "came out screaming at the world/Determined to be heard." In between, Leigh examines a familiar subject matter for a country performer, reflecting on hard drivin', hard drinkin', and hard lovin', singing in a throaty alto twang over countrified rock. She is somewhere between a thinking man's Gretchen Wilson and a drinking man's Lucinda Williams, not, perhaps, as honky tonk as Wilson, nor as intellectual as Williams, but merging their approaches into a style that has potential in the country charts. It's no surprise that she's a protégée of Zac Brown, who co-produced the album, which has been released on his Southern Ground Artists label, as well as playing on it, co-writing a couple of songs, and singing a duet on "Roaming." Like Brown, Leigh has genuine roots in both rock and country, and she also brings in a folk sensibility that makes the guest appearance of Indigo Girls' Amy Ray on "Virginia" a good match. That combination also may spread her appeal beyond country fans.

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