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Just don’t come across as too clever. Not stupid of course, but not too clever either. That would be fatal – and totally unnecessary. She’s young, blonde and blue-eyed. Her soul is blue-eyed. Those big blue eyes reflect amazement at our earthly existence. They’ve seen more than those of her peers. Leslie is a wanderer; the world is her oyster because she refuses to be held back. A single challenge lies on her path: Leslie Clio is a little too good to be true, really. She writes her own songs and doesn’t need an image consultant or stylist. Refreshingly strong-willed, she contradicts every cliché of a cool blonde from the far North – if you leave aside her penchant for being a maverick. Leslie is neither a diva nor a princess. In her mid-twenties, she knows exactly what she wants and doesn’t want. In times where credibility is only one of many positive qualities, Leslie comes across as authentic as only a real original can. We feel inclined to see in her the prototype of a new kind of artist. To put this feeling in a nutshell: yes, that’s how you sing in 2012. No one's going to believe this. You’d be hard put to overstretch the order of the day. Not to come across as too clever. Let's not overdo it. Reality is enough as it is. Let’s take for example Britain as the pop nation, where they love a sprinkling of imperfection. The audience tends to be suspicious if things seem too slick, preferring to cling to an illusion of insouciance. Dusty Springfield, in the 1960s the queen of “blue-eyed soul”, has pointed out that to this day she’s known only as a vocalist: “I didn’t think claiming credits would help my credibility as an innocent little singer.” That couldn’t happen to Leslie. Despite her admiration for all the classic and modern voices of soul, she’s opted for her very own direction even before the production, and this direction takes her beyond all stereotypes. Leslie isn’t cagey about her empowerment and prefers to trust Nikolai Potthoff instead of a whole armada of celebrity producers and co-lyricists. Together, Leslie and Nikolai have shaped a musical cosmos which offers unequalled opportunities. Light yet rich in content at the same time, the multi-faceted production sparkles with beats and sounds which have never been heard in this shape and form. What springs to mind are the concentrated simplicity, the transparent arrangements and the urban setting – references to a more friendly post-punk and a darker kind of trip-hop can be found in homeopathic doses, just like traces of the older and more recent history of soul. As if Leslie and Nikolai had ensconced themselves and evaporated several tasteful record collections to distil pure magic from the remainder. At their core, all the songs seem to be about big emotions. Mad drama! But these are only first impressions. “My songs simply reflect the things that preoccupy me,” Leslie claims, furrowing her brow as soon as anybody dares to press the issue. Cast into music for example on “Told You So,” one of those very special first songs which set the direction for things to come. “Told You So” is a musical declaration of independence by a young woman who refuses to be ashamed of her emotions, and why should she? Here it is, that “blunt message” that’s so typical of Leslie Clio, forthright and direct, presented not bitterly but with an almost unbelievable “toughness.” So watch out, all you notorious unfaithfuls! If that’s what the first musical statement of a debut album sounds like, other things are likely to come into view, too. Why does doomed love take up so much space in her songs? The answer is obvious: “Negative emotions simply have to be worked through more intensively.” The single “I Couldn’t Care Less” is a prime example of turning failure into triumph. The message can be compared to a contemporary Zen attitude, and ambitious feature writers may even discover the philosophical essence of a whole generation in it. By her own account, Leslie is only trying to tell us that “sometimes we have to flip the bird to those small, everyday dramas, because very often we allow ourselves to be driven round the bend by totally insignificant things.” In overcoming that ancient, dated dichotomy between heart and mind, Leslie Clio reconciles the supposed opposites between mainstream and good taste. Music and lyrics may appear intelligent, but at the same time they also want “only to please”. The reason for this is not so much calculation but a real need. Leslie accepts success only on her own terms. And clocked up her greatest success even before her first release. She will remain who she is. And she sings what she wants to sing. Leslie Clio wants her music to speak for her, because from that music speaks Leslie Clio. This may also be the reason why Leslie likes to pretend that she doesn’t have anything to say about her music. And responds to questions about her personal tastes with cocky confessions such as: “No idea; I like chewing gum.” Or suddenly bursts into a discussion about art: “I’m on the same terms with painting as Garfield is with manicures!” That’s honest and different. Leslie is one of the few women of her generation who have succeeded in spinning haunting stories from careful observation and translating those stories into even more haunting songs. Those songs are the mirror of her soul. They are full of love, hope and wit – and in the end they’re all infused with an unshakable belief in the good in us all. All those who have questions will find the answers in those songs. All those who have ears, listen ...