As I watched Leslie Krafka perform one of her original songs from the café table of a coffee house she frequently plays, I sensed she might come from a long line of story tellers. Listening to the assenting “All The Luck”, a ballad about bad breaks in life, and “Wandering Troubadour”, an expression of ephemeral love, from her debut CD The White Cat Sessions, I concluded her passion for her art must be in her blood.
As I later discovered, indeed Leslie inherited her love for storytelling. “My grandfather told the best stories”, she recalls. “They were better than anything on television. I admired the way he could keep all us grandkids spellbound for hours. I really wanted to have the gift.” However, she took it one step further and put her words to music. “I also had a grandmother who was a marvelous singer. She was a high soprano and I remember her favorite song was Ave Maria.” Those influences, along with a household vinyl collection that ranged from Donny Osmond to Charlie Parker gave Leslie an appreciation for a multitude of music. “My brother introduced alt-country to our family, but I listened to Top 40 for the most part, and my little sister loved 80’s glam rock. Looking back there was always a weird mix of albums stashed around the stereo in the family room.”
However, being a music lover didn’t translate right away to becoming a music maker. “I always thought writing songs, playing out, or recording…that’s what other people did, you know, famous people. It was a long time before I actually embarked into the world of songwriting, and even longer for me to envision myself as a performer.”
Call it destiny when Leslie Krafka attended a songwriter’s workshop hosted by Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines. That workshop not only sparked Leslie's passion for songwriting, but began a relationship that has resulted in Maines and Hendrix co-producing Leslie’s sophomore record on•ward due out May 3rd. “It was one of those moments in life,” Leslie explained, “where you say ‘yes’, and it changes everything."
With the release of on•ward a few weeks away, Leslie reflected on her journey, “Since the release of my first record a lot has happened. There were times I wasn’t sure I would ever get to finish this record. When the opportunity arose to work with my dream team, Lloyd and Terri and some great musicians, I had to make in happen. So, naming the record on•ward has a very personal meaning for me to never give up....ever. And, it’s one of Lloyd's taglines. So it’s a nod to my producer too." After hearing some of the new material, like the energetic Wine, Women and Song, or Stay with Me, a love song with a dash of angst, it’s clear Leslie has succeeded in her quest to craft ever better songs. The production by Maines and Hendrix is keenly balanced, never overshadowing Leslie's lyric driven songs, but adding the right flourishes and Texas flare for a record that is undeniably a pleasure to listen to. With this recording Leslie is primed to venture outside of Texas and take her music into other parts of the country.
Reviews of onward:
“Having the opportunity to have seen the maturity of Leslie Krafka’s music from the listener and the on air host side I can without reservation recommend her new CD “onward”. The title itself frees Ms. Krafka’s writing and opens a new chapter for her and the music, with full respect to the process of story writing “Onward” is a complete musical novel. Ms. Krafka’s cover of Hayes Carll’s & Ray Wylie Hubbard’s – Drunken Poets Dream should appease the feminist and bring a smile to the opposing view of the song.” Rick Heysqueirdo, KPFT’s Lonestar Jukebox
“Leslie Krafka is a genuine songwriter that writes about topics ranging from storytelling to matters of the heart. She’s never trite and always seeking truth in her lyrics with a style all her own. A little bit of twang with a saucy spice of city slicker. It makes for an intoxicating mix that leaves the listener wanting more.”—Terri Hendrix/songwriter, musician, producer
"Looking back at what I laughably called my review of Leslie’s first album, I concluded it was “a bloody good record”. I have become no more articulate over the years, so will just say that this time around the same is true with knobs on. That those knobs are being twiddled by legendary Texas producer and pedal steel dude Lloyd Maines is a good start, but it is the quality of Leslie’s songs and singing that make the record stand out." 27 Leggies/Music Blogger
Read the entire review here: