Leslie Mendelson ‘After The Party’ Album Review

Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter releases her fourth album, a modern folk-rock collection of terrific songs. Dare we call it an instant classic?

A voice reminiscent of Sean Colvin, an album of songs that are irresistible on first listen, backed by a stellar band featuring guitarists Waddy Wachtel and John Jorgenson, bassists Leland Sklar and Derrick Anderson, and drummers Jim Keltner and Abe Rounds: Leslie Mendelson has just released the most listenable and appealing record we have heard in some time. Dare we call After The Party an instant classic?

She’s been praised by the likes of Jackson Browne, who has declared that “Leslie’s melodies are timeless. They reach me way back in my youth somewhere. I hear traces of Burt Bacharach and Carole King, and hooks and passages that remind me of the pop songs I grew up hearing on the radio.”

The album was recorded at Browne’s studio Grove Masters, in Santa Monica, CA and released this week by Pasadena Records/ Royal Potato Family; it’s now streaming on several platforms as of today.

Jakob Dylan, son of the legendary Bob and leader of his own worthy group The Wallflowers offers:  “Voices like Leslie’s can get away with almost anything. Along with being a great songwriter, this leaves her with few if any peers.”

“Leslie is one of these very rare singers who can combine elegant precision with the soul and emotional resonance of a deeply moving writer and performer,” adds producer Peter Asher. “She has a remarkable voice and one we need to hear.”

Leslie recently offered her own take on her latest outing:

Collaboration was so important to me with these songs. My previous album, If You Can’t Say Anything Nice… looked inward and was often colored by the dark socio-political climate circa 2018 and 2019 when it was written. Throw in the pandemic during which it was released, and it just became really clear that I needed to have fun making music again. When the opportunity presented itself to have both Tyler and Peter produce me, along with Steve who’s been with me since the very beginning of my career, it felt as if the stars had aligned and were demanding that I indulge in the joy of creating with all of these musical geniuses who wanted to work together.”

Standout tracks on the record include “Keep A Little Light On”, ” Have A Little Heart”, and ‘Other Girls” bring to mind the songwriting talent of such predecessors Karla Bonoff, The McGarrigles, and Lucinda Williams. The closer, “I Know A Lot of People” displays a sense of ironic humour worthy of the Maria Muldaur classic “Midnight At The Oasis”. The outstanding guitar work of Waddy Wachtel, the inimitable bass work of Leland Sklar and the splendid drumming of Jim Keltner on After The Party recall the memorable work they did a few years back with luminaries such as Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Carole King, James Taylor and Warren Zevon, along with so many other Asylum Records artists.

Upfront though is the evocative voice of Leslie Mendelson There is purity and emotional honesty in every line she sings, and this album is one that commands repeated listenings. Highly recommended.

Brian Miller

Brian Miller is the Publisher and Editor of Vivascene, which he founded in 2010. A former record store owner, business executive and business writer, he is devoted to vinyl records, classical guitar, and b&w photography.

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