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My Eyes Are Greener On The Other Side EP

Incorruption (2017)
Rating: 9/10

“I sit and strum this guitar, after all these years I know I won’t get far” drools Lesli Sanders in the opening line for his new solo EP My Eyes Are Greener On The Other Side. And it’s a reflective line which brings a tear to the eye of this listener, as once again the world seems to be missing the boat when it comes to genuine yet raw musical brilliance.

Lesli Sanders may be best known for his work with American glamsters Pretty Boy Floyd and later, to a lesser extent, Prophets Of Addiction. But his solo material is the sort of tear-jerking, reflective and downright emotional poignancy that should demand the attention of all. No surprise then that such tenderness and grit is expressed with this new five-track EP; his best work to date that pours straight from his soul and is funnelled through that dry, rasping squawk.

My Eyes Are Greener On The Other Side is also proof that we don’t need blazing guitars, gimmicky fireworks and gang chants to be rock ‘n’ roll. Lesli Sanders has lived the lifestyle long before many of today’s pretenders were born, and with just one tinkle of the ivories he erupts from his seemingly drunken stupor into a melancholic yet at once enchanting brand of what I call “sleaze soul”.

This is the kind of rock often overlooked because of its subtlety, and while glam bands – real or copycatted – seem to forever be searching for that cheese-ridden anthem to accompany their strip club exploits, in a simple few minutes Sanders conjures up the sort of primal feeling that only Donnie Vie (ex-Enuff Z’Nuff) could match for sentimentality.

The EP opens with the staggeringly brilliant acoustic strum of ‘Here For You’, probably the simplest yet most magical track I’ve heard in a long, long time. Sanders commentates, “I look up the years that have passed me, they seem so close, but just like you they are far”. And with that, the heart-strings are well and truly tugged.

Lesli Sanders has somehow created an incredibly deep and meaningful yet back-to-basics no frills acoustic anthem; an understated, modest and gorgeous tear-jerker laced with an unassuming piano tap and slight atmospheric effect. Yet it’s the line “Now it’s just me and the guitar” which sums up the eternal majesty of this simmering record. Indeed, the only real punch comes when Sanders adds extra gravel to that voice – a crack of added mawkishness dripping through the already faint sprigs of romanticism.

‘Here For You’ is a sumptuous track – far too beautiful to have been beefed up by the cringe-worthy fluff of hair metal’s halcyon spray. But just when you think Sanders has reached a career peak, he caresses the piano keys for the sublime ‘My State Of Music’, and wow, what a track. Again, it’s a short and sweet but a beautiful ballad. Laced with mournful grace, it hints at something you feel that you’ve heard before, but that’s testament to its immediate catchiness.

Feeling like a stripped back demo, there’s a stark contrast to it all; the lonely piano tinged with Sanders’ brooding snarl. It’s an instant classic; the sort of song you parade around to everyone and anyone you can find, only to discover that they are criminally more interested in the latest lump of big-budget rock gloss dross. But fear not, because this is the real sound I want to be alone with, whether in a bar staring into the bowels of a bottle or in a darkened room.

‘Atmosphere’ sways in on an acoustic breeze too; there’s an effective orchestration threaded throughout. I get a hint of the UK’s Dogs D’Amour – mainly just down to that bare-bones feel and Lesli Sanders’ punky, withered crowing. Lyrically the whole thing is genius; evocative, haunting and above all reminiscing. “I wish I could go back and do it all again… re-write that script and forget you” he bemoans. Indeed, it’s almost as if the tears are cascading on the piano as he plays. And make it known that Sanders plays everything on offer here, finding each mood via such simple constructions to enable each composition to breath.

‘Throw Me A Rope’ nods into play with that simple piano and acoustic haze. Again, the lyrics are just awe-inspiring; tinged with sullen reflection they still manage to uplift. At times I don’t know if Sanders is lamenting someone else or himself? But those shades he wears are most certainly the windows to his soul, and through such mild-mannered creations he bares all. “You throw me a rope but I can’t hang myself, ’cos I can’t hang around with you you’re bringing me down, I got nowhere to run you keep giving me the run-around” he slurs, somehow mocking, almost bitter but always true. The memories etched in the lines upon his eye-liner stained cheeks.

My Eyes Are Greener On The Other Side closes with ‘As We Fall’. Led in by a sombre acoustic trickle, this is the EP’s seemingly darkest moment; a tormented, fractured tune of vocal pleas and stirring melancholy. Again the track never rises to anything above a pensive sway, but it could never be any other way. The only downside is that the EP seems to be over in such a short space of time, and I’m left suffering withdrawal symptoms from its honest, earnest and endearing qualities.

It may be early in 2017, but Lesli Sanders’ latest offering is the best thing I’ve heard so far this year. I just hope that when he croons “This is the last stop on my rock ‘n’ roll time travel machine” that he’s not contemplating shutting this roller-coaster down, because I for one am along for the ride, and you should be too.

Neil Arnold

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