by James Fleming
There is a school of thought that says the past decade hasn’t produced any truly revolutionary bands; that the last of the guitar heroes died with Kurt Cobain; that our old heroes are treading water in a sea of nostalgia, playing the county fair and casino circuits in the U.S.A; and to an extent, these people are right. We have not had a Kurt Cobain, a John Lennon or a Jimi Hendrix since these people shuffled off this mortal coil.
What this school of thought is really saying, however, is that we haven’t had any truly original bands or songwriters since these giants walked the earth. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had some fine tunesmiths in recent memory. Alex Turner stands as a testament to this fact. But most young songwriters seem content to wallow in indie-rock clichés and folk-rock meanderings. There’s no revolution in them. And I’m sorry to say, Aoife Leigh is yet another example of this.
She has a perfectly pleasant voice and a strong picking hand. She’s not bad, and I’m not saying she is. But, her songs struggle to stand out from the herd of other singer/songwriters struggling to make a name for themselves in the cruel music industry.
Out of the 13 songs available on her ReverbNation page, only Circus Boy stands out as an interesting track. Easy On Yourself starts out well, the distorted electric guitar livens things up a bit, but the laid-back melody is a stark contrast to the energetic accompaniment that simply doesn’t sit well with the listener.
One can argue that the art of being original is nothing more than putting a simple twist on existing material. One would think of Led Zeppelin’s warped take on the blues. And while Leigh’s music is at the other end of the spectrum to Zeppelin’s, the same principles apply and she has simply failed to apply them.
There’s no twist here, she hasn’t taken the singer/songwriter genre into new territory. There’s a flurry of harmonica here, some banjo there, but nothing new. These songs are polite and pleasant, but far from groundbreaking.
Literally thousands of singer/songwriters are mining this exact same seam. And, if we’re being brutally honest here, most of them don’t even sound like they’re trying. So every factor of their work gets diminished. You can’t even claim that it’s entertaining because it quite simply isn’t. There’s merit in every artistic endeavour, but that doesn’t mean every artistic endeavour is good.
Look, her work is fine, okay? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. But for those of us craving something genuinely exciting, something that gets the blood pumping, for those of us who are dying to hear that something, Aoife Leigh just doesn’t make the cut. And I really hoped she would.