Leslie Mendelson: Love & Murder
It’s been eight years since Leslie Mendelson released Swan Feathers, her previous solo album, and, during that time, the extended Grateful Dead family has adopted her, thanks to her work with Steve Kimock and Bob Weir (who returns the favor in this set). With Love & Murder, she continues to move away from the pop singer-songwriter path that many thought she would pursue, and presents herself as a solitary vocalist and folk minstrel. As the title implies, these songs deal with conflicting emotions and sentiments that are often at odds. That dichotomy is showcased not only on the original numbers composed by Mendelson and longtime co-writer Steve McEwan (the lovely “Jericho,” “Love You Tonight” and “Coney Island”), but also on covers of Bob Dylan (a plucky ukulele take on “Just Like a Woman”) and Roy Orbison (a languid duet on “Blue Bayou” featuring Weir). In some regards, that understated sound makes for a tentative return, but the feelings and conviction suggest otherwise. Hopefully, it won’t take Mendelson another eight years to express any deepening desire.