He’s witty, smart, polite and charming. Clean cut and well-kempt, a bit of edge and some interesting twists. Austin Hartley-Leonard recently graced Chessvolt Studios, playing acoustic guitar and singing his original songs backed by buddy and bandmate, Matt Ramsey, on tenor banjo and vocal harmonies.
Influenced by Ryan Adams, Austin Hartley-Leonard (his name is a mouthful that goes back to his grandmother who hyphenated way-back-when) writes memorable songs with a pretty wholesome vibe - aside from an occasional yet nicely enunciated ‘fuck’ (Heroes). His sweet melodies accompanied by guitar, banjo, harmonica and even whistling (On Top of My Shoulders) emit an organic vibe packaged in a golden honey glow. All of the elements that make a song a good song are present in his writing. But his clever lyrics, like ‘drinking beer and sneaking Flinstone vitamins,’ meet up with a certain presence in his voice that keep his songs interesting, unpredictable enough and real, as in not yesterday.
Austin joked about breaking new ground by writing songs about girls and ‘the man keeping him down.’
Autobiographical and far from corny, it really works for him.
After his set, Austin kindly shared candidly about his evolution as a musician/songwriter. He described his process of writing as real work, an endeavor that at times suggests multiple mental illnesses, in special moments flows with inspiration, ultimately alluring and rewarding as a practice.
To hear him talk about writing, his first instrument, favorite foods and the easiest tattoo he’s ever gotten, check out the Austin Hartley-Leonard Interview podcast.
His album will be released on iTunes September 9th, 2008. The party’s at Hotel Café, 9 pm. Go. You won’t be disappointed.
On Top of My Shoulders
Little Latin Girl
On Top of My Shoulders - Acoustic Version
Austin Hartley-Leonard on Myspace