Creating music has not always been the job of this Canadian singer/songwriter Heather Hill. Before creating Listen in 2005 and her subsequent current release Leuty Station, Hill actually had a position working in the corporate world.
Now the question is, what and where exactly is this Leuty Station that she titles a song as well as the whole album after? Leuty Station actually refers to a 1920s lifeguard station located in Toronto. As Hill was out for a run on one stormy day she found respite in this station. Ultimately, it allowed her to rejuvenate and to renew her sense of self, which led to the creation of this whole album.
Her new album Leuty Station has a lot to do with the day-to-day life of women as well as the struggles that women are liable to face throughout a lifetime. Her songs are truthful and it seems as if she has personal knowledge of what she is talking about; she has a way of coming across as very intuitive. The album begins with “How Long,” a tune about a woman who is up against the possible diagnosis of breast cancer. As her doctor utters the words that no woman ever wants to hear, her world is turned upside down. Her whole perspective on life changes and suddenly an unrelenting sense of dread surrounds her. “Wading Through Normal” also tells about tough times, though this one details the daily life of a mother who is constantly struggling to make ends meet.
“You Won’t Leave Me” is about slowing down in order to experience the true beauty of life. Hill sings, “No one ever thinks they’re beautiful until someone tells them. But honey, words won’t make you beautiful; you’ve got to love, and laugh and cry in your own skin.” Sometimes, the best way to remove the pressure a busy life puts on you is by simply remembering to put aside some time for leisure. She takes a slight detour from her normal subjects with “Between The Leather and the Lining.” This peppy song is a song about what all men ponder at some point or another – just what exactly is in those hefty purses that women carry around with them. She lists the items that can be found in a good handbag. It also tries to explain that what you see on the outside is not necessarily what you get on the inside, and that goes for people as well as for purses.
She uses vocals that have an altogether wide range to them; in some songs, such as “Leuty Station” and “How Long” she uses higher pitches, while in songs such as “Second Chance” and “Wading Through Normal” she tends to stick with lower pitched, more monotone sounds. All in all, her vocals and the sentiment of the album parallel female vocalists such as Tori Amos and Kate Bush. Though her roots are dug deep into the piano, Hill also has a three-man band consisting of a drummer, bassist, and guitarist to aid her throughout her album. They add tremendously to “27.” Because it is a more upbeat song, there is more of a need for a backing band.
This is certainly a mellow-toned, low energy indie rock album. There is not an immense sense of liveliness, but there are no sizeable lulls either. Her songs are truthful, offering empowerment and encouragement. Her music is unique in that no matter what subject she is singing about her tone always seems to have an underlying quality of optimism about it.
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Review by Alec Cunningham