A Musical Journey
Kelly Macleod pursues her musical dream
With a voice that’s one part sweet tea and one part Red River water, Shreveport native Kelly Macleod blends a tasty concoction with her solo debut album, “Wide Open.”
The album hit Sept. 2, the same day the video for the title track launched on YouTube. “Wide Open” is a patchwork quilt of storytelling, and Macleod’s career is the thread that pulls it all together.
The 12-song collection paints the singer/ songwriter’s self-portrait as she journeyed from Shreveport to Los Angeles chasing her musical dreams. Along the way, Macleod romps through Americana with everything from a country ballad to greasy blues and even Southern gospel. Faith, hope and love wend their ways through the album. And her voice rings with some of her influences, including Chrissie Hynde and Patty Griffin.
“I am thrilled to release my first solo album,” Macleod said in a news release. ‘Wide Open’ is my story, and I love sharing it with the world. I hope listeners can find something of themselves in my songs.”
Macleod wrote nine of the songs on the album. It opens with the title track, a song about Macleod’s take on how to live life — “taking more chances and kicking my fear to the side.” The charging rhythm revs the listener’s engine, believing there is nothing to lose.
“Weeds” is Macleod’s call to lay down any negativity that might be dragging you down. It’s a freedom anthem set to a gritty blues sound. And Macleod puts a tale of love and loss to a Bo Diddley beat in “Lonesome Highway.”
Sounding almost plaintive but hardly plain, Macleod pays tribute to her home state in “Fleur de Lis.” Written by Jeff Berkley, the song evokes summer storms, lightning bugs and small-town proms as she wishes Louisiana well and leaves it in the rear-view window on her way to California.
In “Rock-a My Soul,” the most stunning departure on the album, Macleod takes listeners to church and celebrates her faith. Old spirituals and Southern gospel music inspire the song. She cries out, “Cradle me to heaven / where the pain will end in joy / With the soothing rhythm / of the Father’s Love.”
“This Old Wood” takes the listener back to Macleod’s childhood. Her lyrics paint a beautiful picture of her childhood home and her memories of life there, like how her Mama “trusted that ruddy fence / to keep me safe in all my childhood suspense.” The country ballad arrangement solidifies the memories for the listener as well.
Macleod collaborated with songwriter Parth Huxley on “School, Church and a Highway.” Macleod said she was inspired by the story about growing up in a small town and leaving to squeeze more out of life.
She wrote “Quit You” about loving someone or something you know is wrong for you, but doing it anyway. And “Til You Know” is a haunting song about being in situations that can’t be predicted and sometimes come with regret and loss. Its message suggests taking a good look at what you have with a grateful heart.
Sandwiched between those two original songs is her tribute to Elvis Presley, a cover of his 1968 hit, “Little Less Conversation.” Macleod puts a woman’s touch on the classic. A video for the song is forthcoming.
What’s the secret for overcoming a bad day? If you ask Macleod, it’s “Girl Scout Cookies and Wine.” A catchy tune that’s easy to sing along with, it’s sure to be a favorite for girls’ night out.
The album closes with “Amen.” The song looks back on her years of recording and traveling the world, pursuing her dream. “This Louisiana girl has learned some lessons hard,” the song opens. And it closes with the dream that kept her going: “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul He’ll keep. Amen.”
Macleod’s lyrics and musical arrangements lay out a beautiful telling of her journey from performing in local bars to opening for Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Famers to stepping out on her own. You will soar. You will laugh. You will stand and cheer her poignant honesty about love, loss and perseverance.
“Wide Open” is Macleod’s solo debut, but she is no stranger to recording and performing. She broke into the professional ranks in Shreveport with the band Private Life. The band was playing a hometown gig when they were spotted by Eddie Van Halen, who was married to Valerie Bertinelli – another Shreveporter – at the time.
Van Halen went on to produce two records for Private Life. And Private Life was the opening act on Van Halen’s “OU812” in 1988- 99.
“She’s an amazing singer,” Van Halen said in the release. “I really love her voice, and when I heard one of her songs, I was, like, man, that’s a happening tune. I wish I’d written it! ” “Wide Open” is available at Amazon, Spotify and iTunes. For more information, visit Macleod’s website at kellymacleodmusic.com.