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Leslie Woods And Dark Mountain Orchid - The Luxury Of Sin

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 18 / 5 / 2005

Leslie Woods And Dark Mountain Orchid - The Luxury Of Sin
Label: Glitterhouse Records
Format: CD


Disturbing but compelling second album and first European release from Appalachian Gothic singer-songwriter Leslie Woods and her band Dark Mountain Orchid

Although this is the debut from Leslie Woods in Europe the nice folks at Glitterhouse have added'Velvet Sky', the first album, from the Knoxville, Tennessee singer songwriter to the package making it a two CD set. Backed again by Dark Mountain Orchid ‘The Luxury Of Sin’ is a collection of twelve original songs (although only eleven are listed, ‘Heroin’, recorded with Dixie Dirt for some reason doesn’t make the track listing) which recall early Gillian Welch albums like ‘Hell Among The Yearlings’ and ‘Revival’ but with less of the alt.country leanings and more of that unsettling edginess which Welch just touches on and Woods makes full use of. So definitely not a Saturday night feel good album then but for those dark, searching 3am mornings or rainy Sunday afternoons when all is not well with our little world it’s a perfect companion. ‘Appalachian Gothic’ is a description that one always tumbles across when reading about the music Woods makes and for once it perfectly defines the sound Woods and her band produce. Woods is obviously a strong songwriter and pulls you into the songs with her lyrics, sometimes taking you to places you’d rather not visit, especially in a dark room in those early hours, but one can’t help but wonder if the songs would be so chilling or effecting if Woods hadn’t chosen the excellent Dark Mountain Orchid to back her up. With husband Jeff Woods on upright bass, Tom Backus on percussion, Sean O’Connell supplying mandolin and banjo and Bob Deck playing some superb, chilling guitar throughout the album the band sound like they’ve been playing together for years just waiting for a female singer to come along to make the whole scary package complete. And there’s not many female singer/songwriters that come readily to mind who can combine the sultriness with the desperation Woods carries off so well in ‘I Am What’. The music complements the sound of the vocals perfectly, a match made in heaven in fact although the song itself sounds like it was sent from below, an out-take from a David Lynch soundtrack for being just a little too far out there. There is some light in amongst all the darkness, Woods is no stranger to the concept of melody. All too often music cut from the same cloth as this lacks anything remotely like a melody; it seems that for the most part melody is sacrificed for atmosphere or authenticity. Not so with Woods; one listen to ‘Everyday Fever’ shows that songs that conjure up the worst of our fears, our nightmares set to music don’t have to be devoid of a melody. From the very first listen that song’s melody hits home, really unusual for this genre. Even the following song, the aforementioned country blues of ‘I Am What’ gets under your skin from that first listen and stays there. ‘The Luxury Of Sin’ is an acquired taste for sure, but being on the Glitterhouse label no one is expecting the next chart busting sensation. Having said that the album is more, so much more than initially expected. Mixing jazz and a little bit of rock to that Appalachian sound adds a much needed texture to the genre and makes Leslie Woods more than just another Gillian Welch wannabe. Can something be beautiful yet frightening at the same time, I guess so as something about this album makes you keep hitting the replay button time and again and still leaves you wanting more.

Track Listing:-
1 Train
2 Everyday Fevers
3 I Am What
4 Little Bit Of Me
5 Sky So Pale
6 Say Anything
7 I Was Younger Then
8 Cami
9 Heart Is Black
10 What I Thought
11 Save It For Me
12 Heroin
13 Velvet Sky
14 Baby Mine
15 I'm On Fire
16 Crush Me
17 I Am Fine
18 Clayton County
19 Rosemary
20 Lullaby (3:25 AM)
21 Hidden Track

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