The last few years, country music has been making a split between the more traditional singers and those that are more pop oriented. Sonia Leigh decided not to take either road when making "1978 December." This album is 100% her and 100% title free. She was picked for Zac Brown's Southern Ground record label and I found throughout the CD that there is definitely a Zac Brown Band feel to the album.
Sonia has independently released four previous records (one produced by John Hopkins of the ZBB). That means she is not new to the recording process. The record still exerts Sonia's gravelly voice and impeccable songwriting skills. What is different about this release is the support behind the album. Southern Ground is not just a record label - it is a family. Zac Brown lends his voice and guitar skills on a couple tracks as well as other Southern Ground artists such as Levi Lowrey, Nic Cowen, and Oliver Wood lending vocals or instrumentals on the album.
With so many 12/13 song CD's laced with filler songs being released recently, Sonia released a 10 song CD that left me wanting those extra couple of songs (I guess I just have to wait for the next release). Every song has its fit on the album providing a different aspect of Sonia. She wrote every song on the CD along with a few co-writes with Zac Brown himself.
The first single, "My Name Is Money," shows one part of the unique songwriting skills that this artist possesses. Sonia puts money in the first person here. Written based on her own struggle as an up and coming artist, the catchy tune shows just how powerful a face on paper can be. "I can show you who your friends are/I can show you who they are not" and other similar quirky one liners about the power of money fill the song with a new way to look at money. This is a must have track off of the album.
For all you Zac Brown fans, you may have heard "Bar" off of the ZBB's "Pass the Jar" DVD/2CD pack. This is the drinking song that every traditional country album has to have. The fiddle is the main instrumentation for most of this drinking-away-the-pain song.
"Roaming" is her attempt at a reggae song w/ Zac Brown. There are other stand-outs such as "Ain't Dead Yet" or the title track "1978 December" -an acoustic track that was written for her parents about how her life has developed in the last 30-or-so years.
Overall, I think this record is a great first album on a label. Be sure to look for Sonia on the road if you want a great show. Check her tour dates at SoniaLeigh.com or keep up with her on twitter (@SoniaLeigh).