INTERVIEW: Lesley Roley | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Everyone loves a good comeback story, especially in music. Watching all those Hollywood movie biopics growing up, there’s something timelessly endearing about the rise, the fall and the hard road back to success. It’s not only inspirational but it adds substance and character to an artist’s body of work.

When listening to Lesley Roley’s upcoming album, Time To Be, I was impressed by the quality of her songs and the ethereal beauty of her voice. However, the more I found out about the artist, the more I connected with the music.

As with many musicians, it was family influences that paved Lesley’s path to performance and influenced her style. “Growing up I was exposed to so much great music. But I was really drawn to Crosby, Stills and Nash. Their merged voices created a sound I’d never quite heard before. It was haunting.”

“My dad plays guitar, and me, him and my mam would always sit around and sing together when I was younger. My dad is a songwriter so we ended up writing together, turning my silly little ditties into proper songs.”

As she grew as an artist Lesley started out at busker nights before her talents had her playing at bigger and better places including the Royal Albert Hall, Nashville and, after sending off a homemade EP to a booking agent, a support slot on Don McLean’s UK tour. However, in 2019 things took a turn for the worse.

“I got laryngitis. My GP at the time told me that as it wasn’t getting any better and as I’d lost my voice, I might have throat cancer, or nodules, and told me not to speak or sing at all until they could put a camera up my nose and look at my vocal chords.”

There’s something about a harmony. When it’s done well it gives me a shiver or can even provoke an emotive response

“Thankfully, all was fine but I had developed an imbalance of the vocal chords. When I started talking again it was causing further damage and for over 18 months I couldn’t do a gig or have a night of conversation without having to be on vocal rest for days afterwards.”

A speech pathologist friend got Lesley singing again and lockdown got her back into writing the songs that became the upcoming album. Originally it was to be recorded with a full band but it didn’t pan out and as a result Lesley’s vocal is front and centre, something that has led to a more soulful recording approach.

“Since I started having problems with my voice, my confidence in my singing ability has dwindled significantly. I’ve tried to channel the emotion of the song’s subject when I sing it.”

This heartfelt delivery and intimacy make for a captivating listen… From the tender folky tones of Wait, Wait, Wait about ignoring the doubts in your head, to the incensed melodies of Two Face, you can feel every note. And don’t get me started on the harmonies.

“I’m pretty obsessed with vocal harmonies. There’s something about a harmony. When it’s done well it gives me a shiver or can even provoke an emotive response. Simon and Garfunkel, Fleet Foxes, Fleetwood Mac…this is where I get lots of my harmony inspiration.”

Time To Be is great. The journey that Lesley has taken to get there enhances each song and makes their impact even greater.

Time To Be is released on Friday 31st March with an album launch at the Bridge Hotel, Newcastle

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