Jackson & Leslie Mendelson
Modeling her music after such '70s icons as Carole King and Joni Mitchell, singer/songwriter Leslie Mendelson began making waves in 2005, when the homespun debut album Take It as You Will expanded her fan base beyond her adopted New York City. One newfound fan was Joel Dorn, an influential jazz producer and record label exec, who helped Mendelson ink a contract with Rykodisc Records. The young singer then focused on a new batch of material, working alongside songwriter Steve McEwan and the Spin Doctors' Aaron Comess to shape the sound of her sophomore album, 2009's Swan Feathers, co-produced by Dorn. A Grammy nomination (Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical) was followed by a series of personal and professional setbacks for Mendelson, including the unexpected death of Dorn, a parting of the ways with her label and management, and a record that never saw release. She eventually reteamed with McEwan, and in the meantime performed on a handful of albums by other artists, including James Maddock and Willie Nile. Released in 2017 by The Royal Potato, her third LP, Love and Murder, offered seven original tunes along with covers of Bob Dylan, Jimmy C. Newman, and Roy Orbison's "Blue Bayou," the latter a duet with Bob Weir.