Brennen Leigh – Prairie Love Letter

Album Review | Self-Release | Review by Liam Wilkinson

Guy Clark once said that “Brennen Leigh plays guitar like a motherfucker”.  I’d wholeheartedly agree with Guy, and I’d be inclined to add that she sings and writes like a motherfucker, too.  Indeed, her latest album Prairie Love Letter makes me think that she’s one of the best motherfucking singer, songwriters and guitarists we have.  And whilst Leigh’s songs have been recorded by such eminent artists as Rodney Crowell, Lee Ann Womack and Charley Crockett, there’s really nothing quite like hearing their author attack them with style, grace and a voice that is drenched in the Minnesota/North Dakota borderline that bore it.

Prairie Love Letter brims with tales from this intriguing region of America, a place that remains embedded in Leigh’s heart.  “The North Dakota Cowboy” for example is a gorgeous song about a childhood sweetheart, whilst “I Love the Lonesome Prairie”, featuring harmonies from Texan songwriter Noel McKay, sounds about as old and as captivating as the American landscape which inspired it. And then there’s the wonderfully infectious “Elizabeth Minnesota”, a lazy Western Swing number that encapsulates all the joy and wonder of old timey Americana.

Like a tumbleweed rolling across the Drift Plains, Leigh’s constantly charming and stunningly presented record moves nimbly from foot-tapping bluegrass songs, such as “The John Deere H” and “Little Blue Eyed Dog” to such enchanting and melancholic songs as “Prairie Funeral” and the utterly delicious “You’ve Never Been to North Dakota”.  It’s a truly engrossing concept album which will transport you to the sprawling landscape of Leigh’s songwriting and ensure that at least a little bit of you remains there.