Shayne Leighton – Invincible
Storytellers, invariably, are born performers. Shayne Leighton’s life has likely been building to this moment when the writer and actress would find the budding musical artist within and give her free reign to play. The thrill of discovery charges the result, a six-song collection entitled Invincible. Leighton’s singing sounds like she has been unleashed – her voice is the album’s true highlight and its life-affirming fury burns brighter than her trademark red hair.
The storyteller behind her fiction translates well over to her songwriting. Despite their sometimes clichéd sentiments, “This Time” and other songs of its ilk on Invincible are saved from total disposability by the unique consciousness coming through in these tracks. Leighton has flashes of real style as a lyricist and her phrasing takes occasionally unusual turns. Those qualities emerge in a much stronger way on “Dream of You”, a track that does just enough new things with borrowed images and unoriginal subject matter to set it apart. Leighton, however, gives it more with one of her best vocals on the EP.
The absolute best vocal, however, doesn’t come with one of her own songs. Her cover of Pat Benatar’s “Invincible” lingers in the memory as irresistible fun and it isn’t difficult picturing Leighton’s satisfaction hearing her first playback of this song. Her energy and authority claim the song as her own; she never sounds out of her depth and clearly defers to the original while stamping it with her own spirit. “Midnight Man” is a solid pop song with moments of real depth, but the real star there is Leighton giving another memorable vocal.
A constant of this EP is that Leighton has palpable energy to burn as a performer and nowhere is it clearer than on “Foolin'”, an otherwise paint-by-numbers rocker about a liar. She scales impressive heights with average material by filling it with fire-breathing intensity, especially during each chorus. “Wolf at the Door” ends the EP well thanks to its gritty edge and a strong groove. The mix highlights some particularly slinky bass playing.
For longtime admirers, this is a promising sample of the entertainment she is poised to bring as a musical artist. For the uninitiated, it captures the first stirrings of a potentially important new musical force. Leighton sings like someone pursuing this as a passion, not a hobby.