Walking Through Walls
Kerry Leigh and Expresso Lane produce contemporary rock/pop with hints of Dire Straits and Chris Rea here and there but with their own 'algorhythms' thrown in that are distinctly Australian, British, and American persuasions in adult orientated intelligent songwriting and musicianship. The band were spawned in Sydney, Australia, and I'm hoping that someone over there has the good sense to realize that Kerry Leigh and Expresso Lane are quite an outstanding little unit who's debut album is worthy of some decent praise and appreciation at the very least! Walking Through Walls was written and produced by Kerry Leigh, mixed by John Sayers, (whose career has included work for Sherbet, Mondo Rock, Australian Crawl, Russell Morris, Mi-Sex, and Troy Casser-Daley as well as for Olivia Newton John), and features 10 very cool and stylish tracks that even the most discerning of audiophiles will find particularly engaging. The album opens with the outstanding Something Missing - a wholly cool outbreak of brilliance in songwriting and guitar playing with a nice, casual, yet detailed vocal that has your fingers and toes tapping notes across invisible fretboards in empathy. (At this point, I kinda wish the band's bio hadn't reminded me of previous visits I've made to Western Australia cos it's very easy listening to this track to drift back to memories of long red sandy roads and stunning coastlines but in the kind of heat that would make a wax effigy of my Aunty Mary melt into none existence!). Little Bit Crazy opens with some lovely guitar work that sounds like it's being delivered by a very nice seventies Fender Stratocaster and Kerry's dedicated fingertips. The lead and backing vocals are exceptional and the arrngement is clever and engaging enough to delight an entire Stadium's worth of hearts and souls in one go! Watch out for the slick brass work that give the track that little bit more pazaz! No Lovin is a great example of great songwriting and features some absolutely beautiful piano work layering strong and expressive vocals. The backing vocals are as brilliant as they were on 'Little Bit Crazy' and Garry's drums are really tight and to the point. It's a cool track that gets better and better as the seconds slide by and when I've finished this review, I'm gonna come back to this one in particular and let the volume go all the way to 11!. Days Are Blue takes the inspirations on guitar to the realm of super smooth classiness... I love this kind of guitar playing and I'm gonna see if I can reproduce one of these licks on my newly acquired Takamine EAN10C acoustic (there's a free plug for you Tak!). But back to the track... Vocals are flawless as they express the very skilled and insightful lyrics and the percussion and bass work are so well synchronized that you'd think the original inspiration had everything mapped out to the 'nth degree. With a similar tempo and some really nice slide work, Forever Crying comes to us as a real treat for the ears.. now I did turn the volume up a touch and oh deary deary me what a difference it makes! I can almost detect the thickness of the guitar pick! A brilliant song for a brilliant band! We Can Go From There is another example of the writer's adherence to soundly delivered lyrics accompanied by skilled guitar work in a track that leans a little toward the Country genre but not quite enough to force the listener into a pair of ankle boots and a suede tassled jacket. Again, the backing vocals and percusion are nicely arranged and executed and the production is first class. Track 7 is the wonderfully composed Southside - a rich blend of mid tempo rhythm work coupled with high-end guitar and vocals that make the song completely complete on every level. The chorus arrangement is outstanding and quite the stuff of a third or fourth album rather than a debut album. Watch out for the superior guitar solo complete with harmonics the likes of which I haven't heard in a very long time! Only Heaven Knows can only be described as the work of a truly dedicated artist/composer shared in it's delivery by some superb bass and drums work courtesy of George and Garry respectively. The song's a little introspective without being overtly melancholy but on a musical and entertainment level it's absolutely first class! I Wanna Go With You on the other hand is mildly reflective of Mark Knopfler (when he's at his best) and we're treated again to some smart vocal work both for lead and backing vocals. Drums, as we've come to expect, are exceptionally delivered and the sleek bass lines are very impressive. The guitar playing is magnificent and I'm sure the band must have had real fun in recording this one.. it stands out a mile! The final track on the album is Didn't Mind It Here - complete with haunting slide work, sensibly constructed bass lines and driving percussion. I love the lyrics and the way Kerry manages to emphasize the key messaging in this self-reflective little masterpiece. It's a cool song scoring between 9 and 10 for it's ingenuity and 10.5 for production that sends the imagery hurtling towards you at speeds of up to 200mph! For a debut album, Walking Through Walls is outstanding in terms of musicanship and production and a fine example of intelligent songwriting. I'm so glad Kerry managed to get this to me at the start of a sunny day in Edmonton, Alberta, the magnificence of the weather and Kerry Leigh & Expresso Lane go perfectly hand in hand!