Ottawa singer/songwriter and recording artist, Leslie Rohonczy, along with her powerhouse band, put on an outstanding show at Greenfield’s Pub on Sunday night. She gave us a taste of her first CD, Sister Seven (Nov. 2012), as well as brand new material from her newest release, Down From The Ether (Oct. 2014). Leslie’s individuality, independence, emotion, and creativity are present in everything from her songwriting and lyrical composition skills, right down to co-producing and designing her own artwork for her CDs. Flavours of her music range from rock, R&B, pop, and funk, with diverse rhythms, textures, layered instrumentals, multiple vocal harmonies, and exotic modes.
Down From The Ether was recorded at Soundcreation Studio in Ottawa, co-produced and engineered by her collaborator, Scott Walsh, who is also the band’s guitarist/vocalist. Also in the band, are Steven Rae (bass/vocals), Chris Houle (drums/percussion) and Al Wilmore (keys/vocals). Segments of the show highlighted in the following are of all ten tracks from Leslie’s current CD.
The show opened with the first track from the album, an energetic and catchy southern country/rock piece called, “Legend Of Annie Grey”. I loved its wild west storytelling appeal, which tells of a woman who seeks to carry out her revenge on her antagonist.
“Creativity” – a powerful song that Leslie described as the creative process that led to her songwriting wealth of ideas for this album. I was drawn to its strong, tribal rhythm, and the staccato keyboard fills that gave the music a dramatic edge.
“Bitch Free Zone” – a heavier rock arrangement, was written on the drive home after a heated argument with an ex-friend. I enjoyed the song’s edgy lyrics, thunderous rhythm, and Leslie’s powerful sustaining vocals.
The next number, “How Would It Feel”, had a slight 80’s quality, with a gentle, rocking melody. I especially liked the grandness of the introduction which incorporated multiple vocal harmonies and majestic guitar arpeggios.
Leslie displayed her percussion skills on the bongos with “Like Water Turns To Mist”, a song she dedicated to her father. It had an energetic and infectious groove, which had me dancing in my seat.
Next up were two, hard driving tracks from the album – the very guitar-heavy, “Running With The Wolves”, which was also rich in vocal harmonies, and “Throw The Bones”, a piece about primal passion and emotional risk. I loved its feverish pace that had a strong percussive element, heavy metal guitar riffs, and hard-edged vocals…quite a solid number.
“Reality”, was another very textured song that had a great winding, medium-tempoed movement in its changing rhythms, minor to major changes, and more of those tasty haunting keyboard accents peppered throughout the verses.
“Goodbye Moment”, was written after Leslie’s final day of recording on her last album, where she spoke of a sudden wave of mixed emotions that washed over her. It had a lovely, flowing melody, with soulful, straight-from-the-heart lyrics.
The final song of the night was “Diva Voom”, a fast-paced rock/pop flavoured tune, with emphasis on multiple vocal harmonies. Leslie had reached out to six of her female vocalist friends in the city to lend their voices on this unique recording. Each verse was custom-written specifically for each of the singers, in salute of their originality as performers themselves. It had a fun and frivolous vibe, which was shared in the great energy and chemistry of the girls onstage.
On the whole, I was very impressed with how each song was completely different from the other. The varying textures, changes in tempo, thought provoking lyrics, and accented details in the music were extremely creative, and made for a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience. There was plenty of vocal harmony work by most of the band members, which added to the richness of the music. Leslie’s strong, wide-ranged voice, wove through nuances of buttery smoothness in her lower register, powerful long sustains, great falsetto capability, and exceptional control on some very challenging material.