Album Review: Shayna Leigh – Drive

Shayna Leigh – Drive

Shayna Leigh

photo by Ben Helmer; photo courtesy of MLC PR

The Backstory

I was introduced to Shayna Leigh‘s music more than two years ago at the urging of a longtime music journalist friend. He has terrific taste in music, and if he recommends an artist this highly, I’m usually glad I followed his suggestion. Shayna’s release at the time was the catchy “Drive Away,” and it found a heavy-rotation spot on my personal playlist. A few months later, I found her 3-song EP, The Cold Hard Truth and the Dream, which featured “Drive Away” along with “Next to Me” and “Map of My Heart.” That was enough to completely sell me on Shayna’s talent, and I knew that, if I began writing about music again any time soon, she’d be one of the first artists I’d contact for a review. That was nearly two years ago. A lot has changed for Shayna since then.

In the time since I first heard her music, Shayna Leigh has progressed from a critically acclaimed independent musician to a recording artist with a big-time album release. In July of this year, Shayna’s full-length album Drive was released by S-Curve Records/Universal Music Group; it became available for digital download on July 28th. And December 4th, just a few days ago, was the release date for physical copies of the CD. That is the album I’ll be reviewing…

Album Review of Shayna Leigh: Drive

Shayna Leigh - Drive

image courtesy of MLC PR

Vocal and song-driven catchy soft pop/rock. Shayna Leigh does it well, and she’s instantly recognizable. Not just her voice but her vocal flourishes set her apart. You’ll realize this quickly, as Drive opens with the title track, one that showcases the soft, strong, and unique sides of Shayna’s delivery all in one song. Yes, Shayna has a great voice, but she also has great pop music instincts. Throughout the album, her recognizable tone weaves its way throughout catchy, soft pop tunes.

The song “Drive” was released publicly in the summer of 2014, so I was already quite familiar with it; it is joined by another tune I knew well, one from the The Cold Hard Truth and the Dream EP, now entitled “Next to You,” a song that dances around the melody a bit more than the slightly more directionally straight-ahead “Drive.”

Other songs also jumped out quickly at me. The first of these other memorable songs is “Last Criminal,” a lyrically clever, engaging track that has a unique vibe I first heard a few months ago when its video was released. Indeed, it’s easier to understand that unique vibe when you see the video for “Last Criminal,” a film noir-style short that plays upon the clever lyrics and atmosphere of the song. The other track that engaged me quickly is a very poppy number, “Dirty Laundry,” which paints a graphic and not particularly enticing picture of a slobby, loser boyfriend in its verses, surrounding a catchy pop chorus.

Shayna Leigh

photo by Ben Helmer; photo courtesy of MLC PR

But as much as the aforementioned songs were the quickest-hits in the collection, as I have accumulated album-listens, I’ve actually started to catch myself singing other songs, as well, particularly the uptempo, upbeat-sounding “Goodbye July” and the fast-paced “Crash,” with its insistent, tense energy and cathartic releases.

Also worth noting is second track “Typhoon,” another catchy, pop radio-ready number with a clearly identifiable hook that plays in the pop range of Shayna’s vocals. “Typhoon” is an energetic number that features an accompanying music video.

Shayna shows her softer side on songs like “Paradise Lost,” a song about moving on, putting the past behind, and reaching for a better future. (Yes, “Last Criminal” is technically also a ballad, but “Paradise Lost” is a more traditional pop ballad.)

Overall, Drive is a varied collection of catchy songs that show off the emotionally-connecting voice of a talented, young, fast-rising pop singer, a stellar first full-length effort, a strong album without a weak link. Every listener is likely to have a different favorite; and a single listener may have a different favorite each week.

Obviously I think Shayna Leigh is an exceptional talent, but don’t take my word for it. I provided a couple of links to songs in the text above. Check out her music for yourself.

What Else?

Go to Shayna’s website and get a free download of her Christmas song, “Wake Me When It’s Christmas,” while you wait for Santa to leave her album in your stocking.

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