Shayne Leighton – Invincible
Label: Spectra Music Group
Shayne Leighton, author of a popular vampire series and young actress, has turned her creativity and energy to her first love, music. Leighton started singing when she was six and it’s nothing short of astonishing that her five star voice has stayed under wraps for so long. No matter now. Her debut EP, Invincible, is a full throated musical coming of age that shows an artist equally concerned entertaining the audience and making personal statements.
Unfortunately, the songwriting often lets her down. “This Time” promises to be a rousing, tone-setting opener, but it never really catches fire. The lack of any satisfying climaxes turns problematic as the song progresses – it’s easy to find your attention growing restless waiting for some unifying moment to come and, as a result, feel like the song is much longer. The production sounds flat and this drawback is another problem hampering its potential. The improved production on “Dream of You” is immediately noticeable, but the best improvement comes with the song’s agile balancing between traditional elements and a darker, more individual edge cutting through.
Her cover of Pat Benatar’s “Invincible” is an ideal fit for Leighton’s voice. She lets it rip with, if anything, more conviction than even Benatar summoned up for the original. The band plays with whip-snap intensity that helps put the performance over as something more than pure tribute. “Midnight Man”, however, feels like a fully developed lyric and vocal searching for a better song. On a track like this, the songwriting should have moved as far as possible away from the expected, but instead tries to maintain an uneasy balance between formula and creativity that doesn’t work.
“Foolin'” is the album’s least thought-out moment. This is a positive because the song never pretends to be anything else but a full-on rocker. Leighton lets it all out with an angsty, tough-minded vocal that is perhaps her best singing performance on the album. The album ends with “Wolf at the Door”, one of Invincible’s truly successful moment fusing pop sensibilities with a rock edge. Inventive rhythm section work further helps the track avoid any of the cookie cutter atmospherics and dynamics of earlier songs.
Invincible proves Leighton has the voice to go far, but the songwriting remains unresolved. Much of the hard rock here lacks groove and relies on tropes that date the music. There are moments of genuine promise scattered among the debris and, without question, Leighton’s writing talents translate well into her new medium, but she doesn’t have everything together quite yet.