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August 15th, 2008 | Cheryl

CD Review: Lea Marie’s “Lea Marie”

Pop music is in dire need of a pioneer of change. For the last five years or so, the majority of pop artists were either former contestants on Idol, actress-turned-singers, or Disney train wrecks-to-be. Every vapid socialite twit with her own reality show just one day decided to have a singing career. Lazy Myspace pages took the work out of having to find exposure. The closest we got to actual pop star ambition were spoiled teens who got a record deal only because they reminded every record exec in sight of who their famous daddy was (yes that was a jab at you, Lily Allen). Gone are the simple days of a regular girl with real heartfelt drive to be a star, no tricks or shortcuts, just hard work and determination.

Enter L.A. based Lea Marie, who is poised to remind the world that real pop stars are made the old fashioned way. She may have the perfect look and be of that ripe age that would make industry marketers salivate, but make no mistake, her skills are truly not of the cookie-cutter mold. At sixteen, she possesses an astounding amount of talent that I doubt even seasoned pop stars have reached. While most are singing lyrics written by some forty year old man in his basement, Lea Marie writes her own. In fact, lyrics, harmonies, melodies, piano tracks – all of them are written and performed by none other than Lea Marie herself. Potential such as hers has not gone unnoticed: Music Connection Magazine rated her singles as the #1 Pop Demo of 2007, put her in their 23rd Annual Directory of Artists and Bands for 2008, and she also boasts a New York citywide singing competition win. Countless open mic nights, showcases, and club gigs have been a slow and steady climb towards the world of popdom, and have instilled discipline and patience. Her DIY approach and incredibly mature work ethic put her above and beyond the realm of pretty teenagers who can sing, but as a respectable and exceptionally gifted young artist.

Made by a sixteen year old for other sixteen year olds, Lea Marie’s debut album is filled with content ripped from the life of an average teenage girl: boys (of both the scumbag and doormat variety), broken hearts, the bitterness of everyone but you being coupled up, and wanting to get out there and be impressed with whatever this big world has to offer. Though it is not my usual genre of music, I cannot deny the record’s palatability. Catchy choruses supplemented by poppy beats make it an easy listen. Her lyrics, though a little too adolescent at times for my taste but communicate well to her target audience, have a teenage wit that embodies the entire generation. Teens don’t speak in intricate, obscure prose, and neither do Lea Marie’s songs, which only reinforces how much input she’s had on this album, and gives it a very genuine feel.

“World of Wonders” proves to be a fantastic opener, destined to get stuck in your head for days. The beat is contagious, and makes you want to bust out into a choreographed dance move. A pleasant surprise was found in “My Knight In Shining Armor,” which starts out sounding like your average ballad, but has a few tricks up its sleeve. It’s more fairytale reinterpretation set to dance music than it is your standard pop filler, as she sings the classic story of a dormant princess waiting for her saviour. Lea Marie certainly has a knack for storytelling, whether it’s in the literal sense such as this track, or making it feel as if she’s talking to you over the phone about some relationship crisis she’s having, which comes out especially in “The Player” and “Your Brother’s Girl.” Her closer, “Love Is” sums up how we ladies feel about the fickle concept underneath our hard surfaces, even when we try to be cynical and blasé about it. Since the age of thirteen, I think we can all relate to what a travesty Valentine’s Day is if you’re single, which Lea Marie puts perfectly: “Another lonely Valentine, good for nothing day/I want my box of chocolates and I want my damn bouquet.” Tell me that doesn’t sound like something we’d mutter to our girlfriends whilst sulking into a pint of ice cream.

Real talent like this deserves to be recognized. If Lea Marie’s songwriting is this adept at sixteen, I can’t wait to see her writing mature and start delving into more personal, harder-hitting subjects on her future albums. For now, Lea Marie’s self-titled debut album, “Lea Marie” is available on September 16th, 2008. Until then, have a listen and maybe even buy her single, “World of Wonders,” at CDBaby.com/leamarie, or get a sampling of her forthcoming CD at her official site, leamariemusic.com and her Myspace, http://www.myspace.com/leamariemusic. Take note: Lea Marie is the artist to watch.

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