US musician Tyson Leslie has been a vibrant part of the Kansas City music scene for over twenty years, playing in cover bands such as Karma, Baloney Ponyz, and 90 Minutes, whilst also aiding onstage the likes of Corey Taylor (Slipknot/Stone Sour), Gavin DeGraw, Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big), Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Rod Stewart,), and George Lynch (Dokken/Lynch Mob), as well as recently touring as a temporary member of Red Line Chemistry. Train Wrecks, Havoc and Heartbreak is the debut of his own material after two decades of playing other people’s music and such its irresistible infectious charm and masterful anthemic might, you have to ask why it took so long for the man to thrust his own songwriting talents forward. Merging a tasty mix of rock pop, country rock, and melodic invention, the album is an exciting romp to set ears and passions firing.
Leslie provides everything from song writing and production to the multi-instrumentation and vocals on the release with only KC drumming legend Go-Go Ray a constant addition. Train Wrecks, Havoc & Heartbreak does also see guest back-up vocals from people such as David George (David George & A Crooken Mile), Laura Roach (Solus), Jacklyn Unruh amongst many, as well as guest solos from Tory Stoffregen (Enuff Z’ Nuff/New Black Seven), Josh Johnson (The Slowdown/Wonderfuzz), Freddie Francis (Saucy Jack), and Samantha Fish. It is a vibrant proposition which from its opening seconds is dancing with the senses.
From a failed attempt to start its motor, Little Green Honda bursts into life with vivacious riffs and crisp beats, hooks immediately taking a welcome grip. The strong vocals of Leslie soon join the ride, his delivery clean and potent to match the surge of the power pop heart of the song. With keys winking throughout and grooves flirting with ears, the track is an infectious romp with a familiar yet refreshing presence. Not for the last time, Leslie veins a song with skilful guitar craft engaging enterprise ensuring the album gets off to a thumping start.
The following Crazy All Over provides a rich country rock twang to its initial caress, keys and melodies equally southern rock heated and inviting. Undemanding yet irrepressibly resourceful in sound and vocals, the track strolls with a commanding swagger and coaxing rhythmic mischief sparked further by magnetic sonic endeavour before stepping aside for the equally enjoyable She Danced Under Lights. The third song on the album brings a choppy eighties riffery to its entrance and similarly timed breath to the vocals. The sharing of an excellent female delivery with that of Leslie to lead the song is potent as the expressive sound, the resulting warm seduction rife with feisty attitude playing like a meeting of Nick Lowe and T’Pau.
Selective Amnesia bounces in next with jaunty keys and punchy rhythms within a rock ‘n’ roll dance which easily reminds of Dave Edmunds, never an unwelcome inspiration for a song to embrace. The track leaps and bounds through the ear with an appetite to rock which triggers the same in the listener, its anthemic lure contagious and unstoppable. It is an exploit to get pulses racing which A Mourning To Lament brings back to a more stable rate with its melodic breeze and emotive caress. A gentle yet keen song in gait and invention, the track makes a pleasing stop on the journey of the album, keys an emotive narrative, but does slip in impact against the tremendous presence of the album to this point. Nevertheless it is an engaging song feeding the greedy attention inspired, a success matched by the ballad Goodbye To The Rain. Once again piano and vocals craft the evocative narrative which is further strengthened by flames of guitar and emotion.
The thumping drive of Suckerfish has the release flipping up the gears again, guitars and rhythms guiding the imagination into an epidemic dance of insatiable addictiveness pushed by again outstanding vocals and harmonies from Leslie and guest. Its mighty temptation is taken one better by the Costello-esque croon Stranger, a song which plays like an old friend with recognisable habits and brand new deeply gripping hooks. It is a masterful piece of rock pop matched by the distinctly differently guised but similarly delicious Wasted Time. Power pop at its best, the song has feet and voice recruited early on with passions close on their tail.
Both If He Comes Home and Blanket For Your Soul provide further proof of the varied flavour to Leslie’s songwriting, expression, and humour, the pair engagingly crafted melodic suasion in their respective rock and bluesy offerings. Their pleasing if underwhelming, again only in comparison to the weight and power of songs around them, presences are soon paled by the excellent 88 MPH, its urgently fuelled energy and rhythmic grin another impossible to resist adventure within Train Wrecks, Havoc and Heartbreak. The final song with its Lennon and McCartney like make-up, The Last Word, provides a closing ‘lullaby’ with its fine sounds and lyrical enticement, a last kiss from the strengths which have bloomed across the album.
Train Wrecks, Havoc and Heartbreak is an excellent introduction to the solo side of a highly respected artist. Better late than never they say, and it certainly applies to the Tyson Leslie.
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from