Houston Music

Miss Leslie: Between the Whiskey and the Wine

When Leslie Sloan-Lindley reaches deep in her chest to pull up the emotion that sells honky-tonk songs, she hits the notes with power, depth and, most importantly in her genre, believability. Perhaps that's not surprising, since she grew up in a country music family (father Jim, sister Hilary) and has endured a rough divorce since her last record. But if honky-tonk has ever had a go-to subject, it's divorce, and Between the Whiskey and the Wine is filled with honest, stone-cold sawdust floor divorce songs like "To Get Through This Day," "Honky Tonk Hangover" and tear-jerking courtroom slow-dancer "In the Matter of Me and You." The songs all have the reality of Loretta Lynn's battle-of-the-sexes ditties, with the emotional depth of past greats like Patsy Cline and Tammy Wynette. With old hand Tommy Detamore on the soundboard, Austin aces Dave Biller on guitar and Ric Ramirez on bass, and Ricky Davis on steel, the sound is unadorned Texas dance-hall honky-tonk at its best — if you can't shuffle to this, there's no two-stepping DNA in your genes. Davis and Biller are given wide leeway to work around Sloan's old-school vocals and vintage fiddling, and the end result is as stout and legitimate a honky-tonk record as can be in this NashVegas age of Carrie Underwood, Sugarland and Rascal Flatts. With torn-from–the-heart legitimacy and stellar playing, Between the Whiskey and the Wine easily places Miss Leslie as Houston's top female honky-tonk vocalist.

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William Michael Smith