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TRANSVOCALIZERS — Leslie-Anne Rios, CD Review

| May 24, 2010
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Queen Of The World CD review

This month Transvocalizers  introduces you to Leslie-Anne Rios. She works under the stage name of LezleeAnne and in 2008, released her fourth CD entitled Queen Of The World. While this might not seem significant to some, it was in 2006 that she took time off from a busy touring schedule to complete transition. Prior to that, from 1997 to 2006, she toured and recorded under the name Les Rios. (Next month’s column will feature a full interview with her, and she’ll get into all the aspects of her music and her past.)

leslieann301For now, I’d like to offer a brief review of Queen Of The World. The project is produced by LezleeAnne and Bod Millier. LezleeAnne does all vocals, guitar work, hand claps, and shakers. Other musicians include Brent Nielsen, bass guitar, piano and stix; Mike “Squid” Gullekson, drums; and “Whiskey” Williamson, drums and congas.

All tracks written by LezleeAnne, except for a very good cover of the old Bill Withers song, Use Me.

LezleeAnne’s influences are pretty much guitar driven rock, but the surprising thing about Queen Of The World is the wealth of genre’s she manages to touch on over the course of 12 tracks. While most of the project is of course roots rock flavored, acoustic folk, reggae, R&B, blues, and even a slight country tinge are all evident.

Stand out tracks include the title cut, Queen Of The World, along with Welcome The World, Speechless, Sister, Sister, and Use Me.

When I first hear the title cut, for some reason I remembered this old 1950s-early ’60s TV game show called Queen For A Day. The premise was a group of grandmotherly type women would compete for money and prizes by answering questions and telling their life’s story. The most pathetic story won something like a new refrigerator. That’s all I remember of it and at the time, even as a kid, I thought it was kind of sad.

LezleeAnne’s Queen Of The World is one of the better rockers on the project. Lyrically, it’s somewhat Utopian, perhaps even a bit socialist, in its message:

“I want to be queen of the world for just one day
I want every one to be glad, to hear my name
There would be peace in the land
For a thousand years
All of God’s children would live without fear
People would treat each other with love because I loved them”

leslieanne02Another stand out, Welcome The World, has some of the better guitar work, very layered and full sounding. Overall, the song also has a great feel to it. Has a real quick verse/chorus back-and-forth lyric interplay:

Welcome The World
Problems, problems we all got ’em
Cryin’ and lieing, got to keep trying
(chorus)
Welcome the world
Welcome, welcome
(v2) People, so many people, prearly white steeple
Burning and yearning, got to keep learning
(chorus)
Walking and rocking, let all people keep talking
glisten from within, take time to listen
(chorus)
Bleeding and needing, don’t forget your breathing
More days and more ways I stay and I pray

One of my personal favorites on the project is the tune Speechless. This mid-tempo acoustic flavored song turns away from the heavier material and does give a nod towards a more full sound. LezleeAnne’s lyrics on this particualr song contain some of her best writing:

Speechless
(starting with 3rd verse)
I was born to be a poet
Words fall easy on the page
When I look in your tourquise eyes
There is nothing left to say
(chorus)
I am speechless
You take my breath away
I am so in love with you
What more can I say?
(4th verse)
In the silence between us
There is depth beyond speech
Two hearts pound the same beat
And the sky is our reach

leslieanne03The aforementioned Bill Withers’ Use Me was something of a surprise. For the uninitiated, Mr. Withers is the writer of some of the best known classics to hit the charts at any time in any genré. Ain’t No Sunshine, Just The Two Of Us, and Lean On Me are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg of this man’s song output.

Granted, the song originally was an R&B hit, but LezleeAnne manages to balance the guitar driven rock feel along with the classic groove. Personally, I believe Use Me is the best production moment on the project, and could possibly be the most radio friendly track from the album. Given the right circumstances, hopefully, she’ll get some air time.

Speaking of production, that brings us to the only thing close to a criticism I’d have concerning Queen Of The World. The production does seem a little hit-and-miss in spots, with certain songs sounding like really good demos. But that’s not the balance of the project. I know what it costs in both time and money to do a project, so any imperfections only mean real people are at work here, not computers.

Use Me alone is worth the price of the project, and if LezleeAnne can pull off that groove live, she must put on one hell of a show.

The album’s last track, Sister, Sister is the projects reggae moment, and it’s another example of excellent production. It’s a song of survival that all of us, trans or not, need to hear.

“We all see that you survived
Battered soul and blackened eyes
It’s time for you to stop and choose
Oh you can heal or you can lose”

This is a definitely cool ending. While any trans person can relate on some level to the lyrics, so can many straights, gays, and lesbians. That’s what I like about Queen Of The World — LezleeAnne doesn’t belabor the old “…I’m trans, I’ve had a rough life…pity me…’ theme we’ve all heard too many times. She ends the project with the idea that hope and success is yours…if you want it.

For more information on LezleeAnne, please go to www.LezleeAnne.com And remember, we’ll post our interview with her next month.

ALSO THIS MONTH…

Calpernia Addams has another new video on YouTube, only a bit different this time. Apparently she took part in a video shoot for the English band Foals. The video in question, though, is Cal and her friends getting ready for the shoot. Hopefully, we can find some more information on this.

I did find one very good music video on YouTube by Cal. One, I Love is sexy, well done, and very professionally done. Check it out.

I’ve also received some more advance copies of upcoming dance releases you need to know about.

Freak by Estelle, from the upcoming album All Of Me, produced by David Guetta, is a fun groove.

UK artist Robyn has a new album coming in June, entitled Body Talk, Pt.1. Check out the track Dancing On My Own.

Christina Aguuilera, five time Grammy winner, releases her new album, Bionic also in June. The hot dance track off the album, Not My Self Tonight is scheduled as the first single release


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Category: Music, Transgender Fun & Entertainment

Pam Degroff

About the Author ()

Pamela DeGroff been writing for TGForum since the start of 1999. Her humor column, The Pamela Principle, ran until 2005. She started the Perpetual Change music column in May of 1999, and in 2008, Angela Gardner came up with the idea for the Transvocalizers column and put Pam to work on that. Pamela was a regular contributor to Transgender Community News until that magazine's demise. While part of a support group in Nashville called The Tennessee Vals she began writing for their newsletter, and also wrote for several local GLBT alternative newspapers in Tennessee. Pamela is currently a staff reporter for a small town daily paper in Indiana, and is also a working musician.

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