New York transplant Leslie Mendelson has become a well-known folk songwriter in the Manhattan area, impressing with her breezy folk style that recalls classic pop artists like Carole King (perhaps her most obvious influence) and Laura Nyro. After self-releasing an album in 2005, Mendelson returns having won a label contract with Rykodisc and is releasing a second debut, of sorts, called Swan Feathers. It's a lovely singer/songwriter album that employs the likes of producer Rob Mounsey (Paul Simon, Steely Dan, Brian Wilson), guitarist James Maddock (Wood) and drummer Aaron Comess (Spin Doctors), but the focus remains on Mendelson's smooth voice and emotionally charged songwriting.
Swan Feathers travels between groovy pop songs and delicate acoustic ballads, opening with a couple of the former. Both "I Know You Better Than That" and "So Far So Bad" are among my favorite tunes, filled with subtle, sexy instrumentation under Mendelson's catchy melodies. She gets a little melancholy on "Rest of London," turns up the romance on "Easy Love," and gets down to basics on the simply gorgeous closer "Goodnight." She sounds confident and calm throughout, and though she gets perhaps a little too relaxed too often, Swan Feathers is a good showcase of Mendelson's appeal and contains some solid material.
Check out Leslie on MySpace and make sure you watch a studio session performance of "I Know You Better Than That" below.