Meet Liah Alonso and Kelly Halloran, collectively known as Left on Red.
The two young women’s talents run the musical gamut but they are primarily a high energy folk-rock duo featuring Rich vocal harmonies with Liah on guitar and Kelly on violin.
Left on Red’s captivating shows consist of original songs with catchy melodic hooks and intelligent, often humorous lyrics and cover songs, diverse in era, genre and language. They artfully integrate guest musicians into their shows to suit a particular venue or mood but whether they’re rockin’ the NYC subway platform or a stage with a backing band,
their music touches people of all ages
in an unforgettably real way.
Kelly and Liah’s collective story began when they decided to make their living exclusively through busking (street performing) in the New York Subways. Now after 2 years together, they have written and recorded 2 EPs, been played on over 150 college radio stations, and wowed audiences of all ages and musical tastes with their unique brand of fun yet socially relevant lyrics and passionate improvisational instrumentation.
In addition to busking and performing in clubs and festivals across the US and abroad, Liah and Kelly bring their music directly to people otherwise unable to enjoy live music.. people in hospitals and nursing homes and domestic violence survivors at The YWCA shelters. Left on Red also performed for war veterans on a shared bill with Tom Morello and his organization Axis of Justice. The beauty of LOR is they find a way to present heavy hitting topics in an engaging manner that leaves audiences inspired, empowered and happy.
NEW ROCK NEWS 43
Turning Left on Red
When I read these girls' band bio, I saw that their name comes from the term Left on Red, to go your own way. In the true Fleetwood Mac fashion, that's just what these girls do, and every note they play is pure and new, two of my favorite adjectives.
Composed simply of the dynamic duo of Liah Alonso (lead vocals and guitar) and Kelly Halloran (vocals, violin, guitar, and drums), Left on Red bursts out of New York City with a brand new sound from the acoutic rock genre. Now I'm not ashamed in anyway to parade the fact that I'm a Dixie Chicks fan (and I became a bigger one after the whole Bush controversy lol), and to finally find a group that can meld the Chicks' melodies with Bikini Kill's highly feminist and aware lyrics just makes me beam. LOR released their debut self-titled album at the beginning of '09, and I can't believe these girls aren't opening arenas already. They play everyday in the New York subways, and if I walked by them playing I'd be late for everything because I'd have to stop and listen until they finished their set. After all, what's better than a free show from some amazing performers?
But back to important stuff, not my fantasy musings. I start the set-list with "Shop," an interesting, more pop-inspired song that differs very much from the rest of the set-list. Whereas many of the songs are purely acoustic, this one seems to retain an R&B flavor, and it's something that makes this song unique. The funny thing, at least to me, is that based on the title, and the lyrical content, LOR seems to be making fun of the Barbie girls who this song would actually apply to. There is nothing better than some subtle humor to weed out the people who are actually listening to your lyrics from the ones who aren't. The irnoy, beyond the song lyrics themselves, is that this song doesn't seem to apply to these girls. They're not decked out in Prada and Goochi (those are the "in" styles now, right?). They wear simple jackets and jeans (check them out on youtube). Musically, this is a solid song, and one I'd listen to just for the lyrics, even without the great beat.
Track two is easily my favorite. "Jack and Jill" is a brilliant acoustic ballad with insightful lyrics and an incredible melody. Alonso's vocals are phenominal here, and Halloran's harmonies scream Dixie Chicks influence, even if it is unintended. With Alonso's lightly plucked strings laying down the initial melody and rhythm, Halloran adds on more with her violin, and this song is easily as good as the Dixie Chicks' ballad "Landslide." With a rhythmic bridge that deviates from the initial rhythm, and an easy interlude riff by Alonso, Halloran's violin and harmonies make this the must-hear song of the album. Five stars easy.
I'm similarly impressed with the next track, "Shine." Also a more intense and passionate song, Alonso's simple notes provide a melody that meshes so well with her and Halloran's voices that it sounds like a whole chorus is on this track. Halloran, too, particularly shines here, pardon the pun lol. Her violin is prominant and strong, her notes resonating with the vocals in the air from herself and Alondo. If these girls play this in the subway, I have no idea how anyone could possibly focus on what they have to do that day. And then the rhythm slowly begins to pick up as Alonso pushes her voice to the limit. Behind, Halloran takes off on an incredible, heart-shattering violin solo, and there is only one word for this song: brilliant. I can't say anymore than that.
The last song I listen to is "High Heel Blues," a tongue-in-cheek, clever song that makes use of a traditional blues rhythm. With Halloran's solid violin notes ringing out right alongside Alonso's guitar, Left on Red finishes their set-list on a strong note. Alonso performs a particularly moving vocal harmony accompanied by Halloran, and this was the perfect song to finish up with. As Halloran sails me out on her faster-than-fire violin notes, it dawns on my that these girls are one of New York's great, yet-to-be-discovered bands. And don't worry, they will be. It's just a matter of when and how.
Sounds Like: Dixie Chicks, The Wreckers, Meg and Dia, Tegan and Sara
Key Tracks from Left on Red: "Jack and Jill," "Shine," "High Heel Blues," "Shop"