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Lesley Kernochan

A Calm Sun – 2017 (Maple Syrup Music)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Lesley Kernochan

Lesley Kernochan is a first rate singer/songwriter in a folkie sort of way on her fourth release and first in Americana. At first glance, she comes across as a cross between Carole King and Joni Mitchell, with a sound that's sure to resonate with soft rock aficionados of every persuasions The breezy, guileless "Tumbleweed" and the steel guitar sparkle of "Country in the City" are but two of the songs that stay true to that vintage variety, enveloping Kernochan's wistful vocals with a soft sheen that adds both pleasantry and poignancy to the set as a whole.

Songs about home and hearth dominate the set, adding an intimacy that's alluring and compelling throughout. "Blown Away" is a particular case in point: "Love you like a snake bite on my tongue/Love you like a monkey with two thumbs/Love you when the moon comes undone/Splashes on the mountain like a big blue sun."

It's that exceptional imagery combined with her lofty melodies that offer every indication that Kernochan's talent has emerged fully formed. Hypnotic, engaging and with a lustre all its own, "A Calm Sun" is one of those records that stamps an instant impression. Credit Kernochan's songwriting savvy and a superb cast of players for helping her realize this exceptional effort - producers John Schimpf and Scott Jacoby, veteran guitarist Dean Parks, former Mavericks pedal steel pro Ben Peeler, keyboardist Jeff Babko, drummer Aaron Sterling, guitarist Christopher Bruce and bassist Dan Kutz. The results do them all justice, but it's Kernochan's angelic vocals that set the tone and establish the circumstance. A wonderful and winning offering, "A Calm Sun" manages to shine brightly indeed.