The daughter of a coal miner, weaving a trail from West Virginia to Texas and now residing in Scotland, Heather Leigh furthers the vast unexplored reaches of pedal steel guitar. Her playing is as physical as it is phantom, combining spontaneous compositions with a feel for the full interaction of flesh with hallucinatory power sources. With a rare combination of sensitivity and strength, Leigh’s steel mainlines sanctified slide guitar and deforms it using hypnotic tone-implosions, juggling walls of bleeding amp tone with choral vocal constructs and wrenching single note ascensions.
In late 2015, Heather Leigh released her first proper studio album, I Abused Animal on Stephen O’Malley & Peter Rehberg’s Ideologic Organ/Editions Mego labels to widespread acclaim. Renowned as a fearless free improviser, I Abused Animal is a breakthrough work showcasing Leigh’s songwriting prowess, foregrounding her stunning voice and her innovations for the pedal steel guitar. Warmly recorded in a secret location in the English countryside, the album transmutes the power of her captivating live performances to a studio setting, capturing her tactile playing in full clarity while making devastating use of volume and space. Heather Leigh explores themes of abuse, sexual instinct, vulnerability, memory, shadow, fantasy, cruelty and projection across the album’s psychedelic hymnals. At times the intimacy of the recordings makes you feel like she’s singing directly into your ear, playing just for you.
In 2016 Heather Leigh will be touring extensively as a solo artist in support of ‘I Abused Animal’. Additionally, Heather Leigh performs in a duo with Peter Brötzmann.
““Wintry, ethereal and strangely bewitching, it feels both ancient and modern, rooted in the raw Appalachian landscape of Leigh’s childhood and the contemporary language of a confessional memoir” – Mojo
“Even hundreds of listens in, I can’t quite put my finger on why I Abused Animal is so wondrous, but it is, and Heather Leigh has emerged from centuries of tradition and the improv world she is most closely associated with, to deliver a work of art that exists in a world all of its own” – The Quietus
“Every aspect of her playing feels spiritually possessed, intently zoomed in on a single emotional target that Leigh hits repeatedly, backing her dexterous vocals with simple instrumental figures … the only other work in this range would be the reverent meditations of Richard Youngs. But Leigh’s music has a power all its own.” – Pitchfork
“There may not be many pedal steel guitarists working within the field of improvised and underground music … but Heather Leigh, whose new album I Abused Animal is a devastating entrail-sprawl of awe-inducing proportions, is very much at the top of the instrument’s game, both in terms of stretching its playerly parameters and expanding its free-flying capacities, leaving a virtual scorched earth in her wake” – FACT
|10/11/17||Heather Leigh in Utrecht, NL||Le Guess Who||BRÖTZMANN/LEIGH w/ Peter Brötzmann|