There are great guitarists who have a shot at singing, and great singers who pass with a guitar. Unpretentious blues rock singer/songwriter Leah Mason is exceptional at both – how rare. Initially taking up the guitar self-taught, Leah took on the six strings like a child conquering the jungle gym in a sonic playground. Whilst all the other children squabbled for the limelight, Leah walked nonchalantly strumming past them all: an unaffected, organic talent.
Not dissimilar to powerhouse Joss Stone, Leah takes the plump and glossy quality of soul music and gives it an edge – and yet despite the punch she is so likeably laid back. Inspired by Janis Joplin, Patti Smith and Bonnie Raitt, Leah said “I don’t want to get caught up in comparisons to other girls with guitars who are out at the minute. I’m into Alison Mosshart, Janis Joplin, Courtney Love; essentially women who aren’t scared to show they don’t give a f***.”
Leah’s effortlessly potent flavour is brought to light in her track ‘Waiting On a Good Day’. The power rock energy brings a helping of guts laced with 80s The Clash-esque punk nostalgia. In a touch of roughed-up femininity her vocal range soars casually over the horizon; for an artist so nonchalant Leah has some pipes on her.
Similarly, in ‘Never Can Tell’ Leah’s voice cascades skybound as if falling up a waterfall. Combine this with shimmying maracas and polished chord progressions and the result hits you from inside: an afferent summertime high.
A strong recommendation, especially for those with a weakness for acoustic covers, is Leah’s live acoustic performance of ‘Toes’ on Mahogany Sessions at Lounge on the Farm. Whether you’re a savvy music follower or someone who enjoys it for pure pleasure, dare you not to gasp at the mega vocal range and dextrous guitar skill. Building through layers of quick finger picking, a fiery chorus and a rocky break, this breathes a welcome breath of summer festival season – catch it on Youtube.
For blues fans, ‘Is There A Man’ is another powerful track seeped in longing and vulnerability. The ballard-esque chorus implores, fervent and velvety, before rolling into an accomplished guitar solo that reminds us we’re looking at real ‘no frills’ talent. On a livelier tip, ‘San Antoine’ is a bip-bopping taste of country/folk rock that screams ‘shake a tail feather’.
Leah Mason is one of those artists you boast to your friends about discovering now, before everyone else catches wind. The horizon is bright. Although still an independent artist, in mid-2013 Leah toured with Nashville-born singer/songwriter Brendon Benson – incidentally also one of the founding members of the Raconteurs. Their forthcoming material together is something for any keen music follower’s radar. As she begins to really burst onto the stage, it’s clear that Leah is an artist who has taken careful time to hone-in her sound – a sound that shows off her talent as one of Britain’s best female vocalists and guitarists at the moment.