When: Sat., March 24, 8:30 p.m. 2012
Here and there on 1978 December (Southern Ground), the debut album from Atlanta country singer-songwriter Sonia Leigh, the cheap populist influence of her primary mentor, Zac Brown, makes itself painfully plain—the attempt at reggae on "Roaming" sounds like a horrible bastardization of Bob Marley for a new generation of Parrotheads. Her brightly polished music has more rock than twang, which works in her favor, but her lyrics often seem afflicted with Brown's lack of subtlety or nuance: "My Name Is Money" could be a Brad Paisley number, if Paisley's writing weren't funny and had no teeth. Fortunately Leigh's catchy, urbane melodies and gritty energy save the majority of the songs. On album opener "Ain't Dead Yet," a surging country-rock memorial for a comrade who died young, she shows off her raspy pipes; she gives "The Bar," a deliberately un-PC song about falling off the wagon for good, a bit of honky-tonk flavor; and on "I Just Might" she makes a respectable excursion into Memphis soul. Leigh's flirtations with the feel-good moves she apparently picked up from Brown are consistently cringeworthy, so here's hoping she goes deeper into her own dark side on her next album. —Peter Margasak Uncle Kracker headlines; Sonia Leigh and Ty Stone open.