When Grammy winning multi-instrumentalist producer, singer-songwriter Leo Sidran wrote the song “Trying Times” in early 2020, he had no idea just how prescient it would turn out to be. The song, like Leo himself, sat somewhere between jazz, singer-songwriter, and pop music, and spoke simply to the complexity of the moment: “You have to laugh just to keep from crying but it’s not so funny, these are trying times.”
Then came Covid. Sidran settled into domestic life, and set about writing a collection of songs that offered an intimate look into family life during the pandemic year, The Art Of Conversation
. As they say, the personal is universal, and these songs are familiar, introspective portraits that reflect a feeling that so many of us can relate to today. Musically, much of the record rests on a foundation of Sidran’s one-man-band production style of playing drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, vibraphone, and singing. But incredibly, the record also counts on over 60 collaborators.
“Row On” is Sidran’s English adaptation of the Oscar winning song “Al otro lado del rio,” originally written by the celebrated Uruguayan composer Jorge Drexler and produced by Sidran in 2005 for the film Motorcycle Diaries
. In Sidran’s English rendering, the song becomes an anthem of hope and optimism: “I think that I see a light, just on the other shore.” The song features a chorus of singers from around the world, ranging from jazz singer Kurt Elling
to legendary rock producer Butch Vig (and dozens more) and even Jorge Drexler himself joins in. The Art Of Conversation
is Sidran’s 7th solo album and follows his celebrated 2018 release Cool School [The Music of Michael Franks]
. Like Michael Franks
, Leo’s music borrows from both jazz and songwriting traditions; it lives somewhere in between. And both Franks and Sidran share a love of Brazilian music. Nowhere is that made more clear than on the title track “The Art Of Conversation”, a bossa nova duet sung between Leo and celebrated jazz vocalist Kat Edmonson
In fact, The Art…
is also a nod to another of Sidran’s projects, his influential podcast The Third Story
which features long form conversations with musicians and members of the creative class about their process, journeys, ambitions and experiences. Nearly every collaborator on The Art Of Conversation
(including Edmonson, Elling, Vig, and Drexler) have been featured guests on the podcast along with literally hundreds of others.
Row On, The Art Of Conversation, Trying Times (featuring Larry Goldings), Georgette, Song For A Sucker Like You.
All songs written by Leo Sidran (Bulldog Music/ASCAP) except “Row On” by Leo Sidran and Jorge Drexler, and “Song For A Sucker Like You” (Ben Sidran/Bulldog Music).