From the first few notes of a Leslie Tom song, you’re instantly taken back to a time when singers like Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn were winning the hearts of country music lovers everywhere. But keep listening, and you’ll hear a voice and a sound that is remarkably current, even timeless. This Denver-based songstress is defying the odds by steering away from the “Nashville style” country trends. Instead, combining relatable lyrics with her bubbly, sassy personality and an unmistakable voice (along with the occasional fiddle and pedal steel guitar), Leslie Tom stands poised to hit the mainstream with her own traditional-modern spin on country music.
Leslie’s self-titled EP is a highly personal project for her. Produced by John Macy and recorded at Cinderella Sound in Nashville, the record features a veritable “who’s-who” of legendary session players, including Lloyd Green on pedal steel, Country Music Hall-of-Famer Hargus “Pig” Robbins on keys, and long-time Garth Brooks guitarist Chris Leuzinger, among others. The EP also features a dusty-road duet with rising country star Kevin Moon on the song “My Only Addiction.”
From the twangy slide guitar and fiddle interplay on the Dear John kiss-off “Hank You Very Much,” to the honky-tonk-shuffle relationship reality check “Breakin’ My Own Heart,” to the familial bonds explored in both “Every Other Friday” (a nostalgic nod at Leslie’s relationship with her dad) and “Hardest Thing I’ll Ever Do” (a tip of the hat to Leslie’s daughter and navigating the difficulties and joys of parenthood), the self-titled release is, at its heart, about relationships, as viewed through a vintage country lens.
“What I love about the EP is that it’s the first record I’ve done where I’ve co-written all but one song on it,” says Leslie. “I have stayed very close to my traditional country roots.”
You can’t get much more traditional country than the artist Leslie chose to cover on this release: Her cover of Patsy Cline’s last single, “Leavin’ On Your Mind,” is a torch song rife with jazzy-bluesy piano that kicks up the tempo just a little bit without losing any of the emotional tug that made the original a powerful country classic. In a case of full-circle rightness, Pig Robbins, who played on Cline’s version, also played keys on this version.
Leslie’s pure country sound comes as little surprise. Born and bred in the heart of Texas, she cut her teeth listening to Hank Williams, Patsy Cline and Bob Wills on the radio of her father’s Ford truck. Her own musical journey began at age 7, picking up the violin and clarinet before settling on piano, and eventually developing her vocal skills and songwriting chops. Since those early beginnings, music has been an inescapable force in her life, and even her early attempts to settle into a corporate job after college couldn’t stick for long. For Leslie, a return to her country roots was inevitable, and once she made the decision, she never looked back.
In the years since, Leslie has sung on stage in front of tens of thousands of people, opening for artists like Josh Turner and sharing the stage with the likes of Lee Roy Parnell, Jeff Bates and others. She’s appeared on television music competitions, released two critically acclaimed studio projects and performed for enthusiastic audiences across the world. Her musical journey has taken her from the honky-tonks of south Texas to a stint in Nashville, then back to Texas before settling in Colorado in 2014.
Since her move to Denver, Leslie is seeing a fresh surge in her music career as her genuine style and heartfelt lyrics connect with a whole new audience. Released in advance of her third studio effort, Leslie’s latest single, the patriotic “Didn’t Think Twice,” is a moving tribute to her own grandfather, paying homage to the “Greatest Generation” of WWII veterans who sacrificed so much for our nation’s freedom, and who are now rapidly passing away. Featuring guest vocals by ex-Navy SEAL Pete Scobell, the single was released on Veteran’s Day, with proceeds going to the Travis Manion Foundation, a non-profit organization empowering veterans and the families of fallen soldiers. An alternate version of the single also appears on the EP.
“The song was purposely written so that anyone who is in the military or has been in the military will relate to it,” says Leslie. “I’m incredibly proud of the fact that 100 percent of the proceeds benefit the TMF.”
The best artists of any genre are the ones who are able to draw inspiration from the sound and style of the past, own it, and carry it forward to the next generation. No one in the business today does this better than Leslie Tom. In a day when so many artists are trying in vain to mold their sound to the current trends, she simply lives within the pure country sound and owns it in the process. Within the first few notes of the song, you discover what so many of her fans already know: Leslie Tom is the real deal.