Eclectic folk artist Odie Leigh gives listeners a taste of all that she can be on debut EP, How Did It Seem To You. Leigh’s music is deeply founded in the blues and classic folk traditions of Louisiana, often featuring self-taught fingerpicking, simple strings and woodwinds. Leigh’s DIY music-production is enticing and sincere in a way that maintains all of the rawness vital to folk music.
Leigh’s voice is wholly enthralling — her timbre is rich and dark, like a muddy brown; honey-sweet with a healthy amount of grit. The EP is meant to be heard on an old country porch, among swishing grasses and chirping crickets, with wood creaking underfoot. There is something about hearing the squeak of fingertips against wound-strings that makes the intention of the artist seem palpable. It’s almost as if you are in the room where it was written, cheek pressed to the wood body of an acoustic guitar, watching deft hands move in a quick, neat fingerstyle, feeling each strike reverberate through your skull.
The EP opens with “A Month Or Two,” characterized by a melodic walking bass line that bounds from side to side. Here, Leigh’s voice and acoustic guitar are of the same lovely timbre and tones, monochrome browns, earthy and warm — they work quietly alongside each other before blooming into a chorus layered in soft strings and wispy backing vocals. Leigh sings of giving things time, replacing bad habits with new ones and the acute pain of a first heartbreak.
From there, chirping birds welcome listeners into “Nine Lives,” a song about dissolving into another person, living your life for them and giving them everything you have. “Nine Lives” is about coming out of a relationship and realizing you saved nothing for yourself — you lost so much to the other person in sheer hope of loving them another day. Leigh paints such a pretty picture of misery that you might miss the poignant heartbreak here and think it a whimsical, woodsy love song. Delicately placed wind instruments act like a soft breeze moving through the treetops, rustling leaves and stirring up songbirds as her clear and resonant vocals trill and dip into a deep warm range.
“Habits Held” and “Take Back” lie on opposite ends of a bad relationship — “Habits Held” is about swapping old poisons for new ones and loving someone you know is no good, and “Take Back” is about reclaiming every ounce of yourself that you put into another person. Strings and layered voices feel almost cathartic — like a choir rising above the mix, lamenting the heartbreak that lives in these tracks.
“Crop Circles” is as mesmerizing as always, a familiar favorite that brought many listeners to Odie Leigh when released in March 2022. Themes of growing older, changing and fearing it deeply still ring true to listeners, and when placed in context with the entirety of How Did It Seem To You, I find myself even more enthralled with Leigh’s storytelling ability.
Odie Leigh’s music always has such a wonderfully enticing spatial effect to it. Listeners can feel deeply involved in the stories she spins because it sounds as if she is right there alongside them. Leigh understands that good folk music creates a place to feel at home, music that can draw you in and hold you close. At its heart, music should be an intimate exchange between artist and listener, and How Did It Seem To You manages to give listeners Leigh’s whole heart.
Daily Arts Writer Claire Sudol can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.