Over the course of her inspired career, Leerone has triumphantly upended pop conventions while hewing to the great singer-songwriter traditions of her Los Angeles forebears (think Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell and Randy Newman, to name a distinguished few). Now, on the heels of her two independently-produced debut EPs, Leerone delivers her most vivid, most wide-ranging recording to date. Produced and engineered by Christopher Fudurich (Jimmy Eat World, Nada Surf, Matthew Sweet, Fishbone), Imaginary Biographies features 11 original compositions where British pop, classical-tinged balladry, Euro-rock influences and theater sensibilities collide with Leerone’s uniquely impressionistic lyrics. “I think of this batch of songs as little stories and worlds that exist in my mind,” the singer says of Imaginary Biographies. “I was thinking a lot about when something is imaginary, whether we choose to keep it imaginary, or to make it real. That’s where the title of the album came from.”
With its all-things-considered approach, Imaginary Biographies marks a logical progression. On Leerone’s 2003 debut EP, “In This Life, On This Road,” the singer masterfully juxtaposed winsome original melodies and soul-searching lyrics against brute rhythms that recalled the early 1970s dawning of hard rock. By comparison, her 2004 EP “Hail to the Queen” was a complete about-face — six original tunes sung and performed to the sole accompaniment of Leerone’s own piano. Within the short span of two recordings, Leerone had demonstrated the drive, vision and confidence of an artist with three times the experience.
The maturity evident in Leerone’s music is the result of a unique life’s perspective. Hailing from the Israeli port city of Haifa, she was brought to the US when she was still in diapers. Attending school in suburban Los Angeles, she spent her summers back in her Middle Eastern homeland. “The experience definitely changed me,” she says. “I think having two homes makes you more open and critical of who you are, because you’re more aware of the things that are shaping you.”
For Leerone, that self-awareness has translated into an all-encompassing, hands-on approach to music making (the singer’s obsessive attention-to-detail is evident in the name of her independent record company, Fussy Music). Indeed, Leerone not only composes and sings all of her material, she also conceives and designs her cover art, snaps some of the photographs featured on her recordings, and designs her own stage attire. She hints that even more spirited creativity is yet to come. “It’s not necessarily just about music for me — it’s about artistry and how it can come in different forms,” Leerone says matter-of-factly. “When you look at it that way, employing other mediums to complement the music just seems natural.”