Homespun: Leslie Sanazaro

On Your Roof EP

Oct 1, 2008 at 4:00 am
Leslie Sanazaro has been a well-kept secret around town for the past few years, though it's not for lack of trying. Besides her solo work, she's also performed with So Say We All and Polaris, and she recently formed a dueling-piano duo called the Spinets. If there's any justice, On Your Roof, Sanazaro's second EP, will give her a bigger share of the spotlight at home. These new songs sound cross-bred for maximum exposure, a Venn diagram where indie rock, downtempo folk and light jazz intersect. Her voice is strong but reserved; luckily, she relies on lyrics and the Brill Building basics of song craft to make her points, and refrains from piano-pounding histrionics or octave-jumping oversinging.

The five songs on Roof are brief, varied, and give a good impression of Sanazaro's strengths. Shuffling drums and reverb-heavy guitar set the pace on opening track "For You," while layers of Hammond organ, Mellotron flutes and background vocals give heft to Sanazaro's direct and effective piano playing. "Hot and Cold" veers more toward ballad territory, while "On Your Roof" tells a story of blossoming romance and St. Louis summers with spacious, open chords that threaten to envelop the song. That these songs could sneak onto a Starbucks play list or into a commercial for Old Navy is a testament to Sanazaro's understanding of pop music's dynamics. She saves the best for last with "Put on Your Shoes." A bluesy piano vamp and a heavy downbeat give way to a seductive, soaring chorus that's both saccharine-sweet and surprisingly potent. And that mixture of sweetness and substance is a nice way to think of Leslie Sanazaro as an artist — the sheen of her radio-ready tunes doesn't detract from their durability and heart.
— Christian Schaeffer

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