Love Letters (Warner Bros.)

Album review Cover

Leslie Satcher put Paris, Texas, in her rear-view mirror the same day she lost the man she loved to another woman. No maps, just a giant heartache in a funky car heading north toward Nashville - a town that can break a heart as quickly as it can mend one.

Leslie reached her dream of making it as an artist by taking the songwriting route, creating tunes for such acts as Reba McEntire, Vince Gill and Pam Tillis. Her riveting demos prodded Warner Bros. to give her a chance to interpret her own songs. And what songs!

"Love Letters From Old Mexico" wraps more poignant images into three minutes and 50 seconds than a two-hour movie. Acknowledging that she lost the love of her life to someone else (sound familiar?), Leslie sings, They'll be tear-stained and tenderly folded/Words that I've torn from my soul/Oh, kiss one for me when you're holding/That box of love letters from Old Mexico. When this one rattles out of the jukeboxes, there will be tears on the Wurlitzers: She'll be pictures in all of the albums/And a wreath on Mother's Day/I'll be found by your children after you go/Just a box of love letters from Old Mexico. Equally morose lyrics wrench every emotion from "Goin' Down Hard." Staring dead-on at the demons of loneliness, Leslie moans, Ain't no song in this guitar/I been tryin' all night long/Something's tearin' at my heart/But there ain't no song in this guitar. Her writing and dynamic performances are so strong the listener resents the inclusion of any non-Satcher songs, even though she gives a new spin to Bobbie Gentry's "Ode To Billie Joe."

"I Will Survive" is Leslie's ode to resiliency, while "Burn Me Down" is soft and sensuous, a love ballad that's solar-flare hot, but sung with cool, controlled passion. Leslie describes herself as a woman who clings to "old letters, old ideas, old melodies ... and the notion that I was put on this earth to sing." Her love letters come special delivery, stamped with authenticity and angst. If she has more musical mail in the box than these letters, she's going to be around for the long haul.

-- Gerry Wood

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