Leny’s Girl – Walk Outside Again
10 songs – 42 minutes
Based out of Sydney, Australia, where the blues has been extremely popular since Dutch Tilders brought the music from his native Netherlands in the ‘50s, Leny’s Girl is a hard-driving roots ensemble who’ve been charting for months in their homeland with one of the songs on this album.
A four-piece band who play in support of a female vocalist, they’re fronted by classically trained mezzo-soprano Kasey McKenzie, whose extensive background in musical theater includes leads in Evita and Annie, among other familiar titles. Prior to Leny’s Girl, McKenzie shared vocal duties in A Band Named Trevor, whose album Smoke Dog Music climbed to No. 15 on the Australian blues charts.
Named in memory of Kasey’s mother, who lost a valiant battle against motor neurone disease — a rare, incurable malady that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, this is the first full release for the band, which leans far more toward the harder edges of rock than it does toward blues.
The lineup includes three former A Band Named Trevor members — guitarist Steven “Beggsy” Beggs, percussionist Mark “Brownie” Brown on and bassist Tom Raw – as well as harmonica player Bob “Cookie” Cooke, who previously worked in a duo, Frog And Toad.
Leny’s Girl’s music ranges from rock approaching heavy metal to whisper-soft blues. A tasty guitar hook kicks off “Pretend,” which begins as a moderate tempo blues but quick modulates to a walls-to-the-wall, stop-time rocker. The lyrics fly from McKenzie’s mouth like bullets as she celebrates her freedom from someone who can only be described as a poseur. The arrangement is skin-tight despite a rhythm pattern that provides little breathing room but still allows space for harp and six-string solos.
The intensity drops measurably for “No Fool,” which opens with a steady drumbeat and a little psychedelic guitar then becomes a driving blues that complains about the absence of harmony in the singer’s town and states the need to have a “shooter to guard her back.” The imagery continues in “Devil With A Gun,” which describes the singer’s attitude toward an unnamed target. Previously released on an EP, it contains more acid elements and was sitting No. 9 in the Aussie charts when the disc arrived in the U.S.
“Walk Outside Again” offers a breath of fresh air from what’s come before. Beginning as quiet ballad, it slowly increases in power, drops again and then builds to a close. Beggsy’s slide work opens the driving blues, “Be Gone,” before the rocker “GCK” describes a man who’s popular because of having an abundance of cash and cocaine and flows directly into “Don’t Come Back,” which also comes with an extremely hard edge.
“Stay,” a fully realized ballad, is as tender as this band gets as Kasey promises to overcome the hurt she’s experienced previously if her lover will only remain at her side. The hard-driving, slide-propelled “Miss Robin Hood” is up next before “Table” ends the album, modulating from a whisper to psychedelic rocker a couple of times before and eventually erupting in a rocker with intense psychedelic overtones.
Available through several online retailers, Walk Outside Again is an interesting debut that will appeal to folks who like their blues with a strong dose of rock. It’ll be interesting what this band does going forward. One wish, however: McKenzie’s delivery on most of this material is so over-the-top that she’s bordering on shrill in some spots. It might be a good idea to dial it back a bit to avoid vocal issues down the road.