The Leaves' Saving Your Side is a song cycle depicting the navigation of psychic terrain from shock to redemption, during which time the musicianship is as understated as the emotional content is authentic.
In the beginning, the record carries distinct echoes of Neil Young's Crazy Horse yet the band sounds neither imitative nor self-conscious in their writing or playing and moves quickly beyond easy comparisons. "Giving' Up" find them in electric slow motion, the rhythm section of Corey Beard on bass and Steve Sharon on drums remarkable for keeping a pronounced beat, while Aya Inoue's voice is the definition of fragility.
In contrast, Matt Harpster's lead guitar is a skewed staccato attack, a foil for her voice as he is throughout most of the record. The slightly more lively acoustic-based "Perspective" finds him in a more streamlined tone behind the woman's vulnerable voice -- echoing her own resolute delivery. "Disguise" is more upbeat by far but less based on specific roots than a seamless mesh of rock and country music: that's another discernible progression that takes place during the course of the eleven-track record.
By the time the appropriately sequenced "Movin' On" appears, it's clear that the technicians of The Tank studio, Ben Collette and Rob O'Dea, did justice to a band that's fast developing its own distinct personality. Here again Inoue's declamatory delivery is perfectly echoed by Harpster's raunchy guitar so that The Leaves sound unified and purposeful, so much so you'd want to see them do this music live and look forward to their next recording. Are there higher compliments to pay a group?