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.
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.
'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
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.
'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