Leigh Hilger,
Casting Shadows
(self-produced, 1999)

Leigh Hilger has produced a very good album here. The songs are relevant, well plotted and very convincing.

All except one of the tracks are self-penned and the only person Leigh shares writing credits with is Alfred Lord Tennyson. The noble lord is here because "Blow Bugle Blow" is a track with his poem -- known here in Ireland from its opening lines "Full splendour falls on castle walls and snowy summits old in story" -- being set to Leigh's music.

My favourite track among many here is "Rosalee." It is a story of immigration but it is different in that the subject is the person who has arrived in the United States but is awaiting a loved one. The tale is so well told that I find myself wondering if it is a true-life story or is Leigh just so convincing. The answer does not matter; the fact that I had to consider it is a tribute to her craft.

Hilger brings her storytelling prowess to the fore once more with "The Ballad of Silas Ebb." This is a ghost story and I had to check if it was a traditional tale because it felt so much like a story sung around firesides for centuries. "The Money Game" is yet another story ballad. This time it is not about ghosts or immigration of decades past, it is as contemporary as the news you read today. "You were hired to do a job, don't let your morals interfere."

"Child's Eyes" is another song that convinces the listener that it recounts real life experience. It tells of the reality of love in a family. It is not a constant stream, it is the rapids. Loving is hard and needs work, understanding and forgiveness. It focuses on the love between father and daughter. "I worshipped the ground he walked over. I wonder if little girls do that anymore. Life is not a competition to even the score before somebody dies."

Leigh Hilger is new to me but her songs resonate with memories we all have. Her music is simple, the lyrics are clear and the message is profound.

[ by Nicky Rossiter ]
Rambles: 9 February 2002

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