Leeann Atherton

Lady Liberty

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Appropriately titled, as Lady Liberty visits all the bedrock forms of American music, Leeann Atherton's debut is an impressively eclectic mix of country, blues, gospel, and even jazzy touches. A powerfully soulful vocalist in the mold of Bonnie Raitt, Atherton is the perfect medium for songwriter Mike Stevenson's clever rural Americana lyrics. The classic country balladry of "Drift On" strongly brings to mind the early work of Emmylou Harris, while a few other tracks resemble the pastoral arrangements of Comes a Time-era Neil Young. When her versatile backing band swings and rocks like the Black Crowes, Atherton can sound amazingly similar to Chris Robinson, as on the muscular southern rock of "Hard Cold Cash" and the gospel-tinged "Real Life." The understated bluesy balladry of "Smilin' Devil" has a world weary quality that sounds as if it could have fallen out of the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street. Most impressively, none of the 13 songs repeat themselves, as each reveal a different side to Atherton's sound. That being said, it would be hard to ask for much more.

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