Introducing....Sasha McVeigh & Sonia Leigh

British country singer-songwriter Sasha McVeigh is set to release her first full length album on 25th May with money raised from a successful Kickstarter campaign. The album has ten tracks, with an acoustic version of Stupid Girl and a work-tape version of You Only Live Once making up two additional bonus tracks.

In my opinion the stand out track from the album would have to be Someone To Break My Heart. Sasha's voice has an interesting edge to it which comes across really well in the track and the production supports her nicely with a catchy melody that will leave you tapping your feet along to it.

Another impressive track is You Only Live Once, with the chorus being the best section. I will say the slightly odd spoken introduction doesn't particularly help the track but You Only Live Once redeems itself as it continues with a really thoughtful lyric. I'm not however sure that I personally would have included a work-tape of the track as the last track on the album, strangely the acoustic guitar is far stronger than Sasha's vocal, leaving you straining to hear the words and it slightly takes the shine off what is actually a very sweet track. Since initially posting this article I have been told that the work-tape track is there as a tribute to co-writer AJ Masters who passed away in January, this is undoubtedly a very sweet thought and I would like to offer my condolences to his family.

Unfortunately the rockier tracks let Sasha, and the album as a whole, down. Sasha proves she can do slower, balladic tracks really well but the rockier numbers are where her vocal feels at it's most uncomfortable and there is nothing to really draw you, as a listener, in. I can also imagine the majority of them may sound a little chaotic live, particularly Hot Mess.

I caught up with Sasha and recent tour partner Sonia Leigh to ask them some questions....

Which is each of your favourite songs from the other person?
Sasha - I love Sonia's "Booty Call" song, it's a very clever song, the lyrics are brilliant and it's very catchy. I know it's going to be a hit for sure!
Sonia - Stupid Girl. 
March marked the first time either of you have played at London's Country To Country Festival, how was the experience?
Sasha - C2C was incredible, I can hardly even put into words how much fun I had. When I played in The Saloon on Sunday, they had to close the doors because it was so full. It was amazing to have so many people wanting to come and see me perform when there were other artists playing at the same time as me. I think it's a wonderful festival that's doing an unbeatable job of promoting country music in the UK.
Sonia - That was so great! I had never gotten to see Sasha in her own environment and I felt like a proud mama even though she already has a wonderful, beautiful proud mama! I also felt so thankful and excited to be playing C2C at the famous O2. What a dream! I got to see a lot of my fellow artist friends like Sam Hunt and Brantley Gilbert from Nashville and it was pretty cool to hang with them on the other side of the pond. It was nice to get to introduce Sasha to Brantley Gilbert because she is a big fan. 
When did you first know you wanted to be involved in country music?
Sasha - My Dad has always been a big country music fan, so when I was little he would play the cassette tapes and we'd watch CMT together, so I was indoctrinated at a young age [laughs]. When I start writing songs at age 12 they just came out country. I feel I have a strong connection with the genre in that when I listen to country songs I really feel what the artist is singing. They're such relatable songs and very honest. It's definitely the genre for me!
Sonia - I was raised on country so it's in my blood. All other genres that I write stem from my country roots, I'm a southern girl. I was raised southern, regardless of my curious, wandering, gypsy spirit. I'll always really be a girl from a small southern town in my heart of hearts.
Which artist would you like to collaborate with and why?
Sasha - A country artist? Sonia of course! [laughs] In terms of country artists, I'd love to collaborate with Zac Brown Band and write with Wyatt Durrette. I love everything they do. They're such talented musicians and I love artists who are a 'triple-threat' so to speak, they sing, write and play. Jon Randall is also on my list of song-writers I'd love to collaborate with, he's also a phenomenal singer and musician.
Sonia - I would really really love to work with Sia. Who wouldn't? We are both Sagittarius and I love how her career and writing has been so versatile. I really resonate with her writing. I think it would be an incredible experience. I have major respect for her as well in how she's handled her image.
Which song do you wish you had written and why?
Sasha - Hands down "You Don't Know Her Like I Do" by Brantley Gilbert. Most people probably answer that question with a song that was a worldwide hit or something like that, but that song just means so much to me. It describes, perfectly, a situation I was in with an ex-boyfriend and to this day I can't understand how I didn't write that song. I still remember where I was, what time and everything, for when I first heard it on the radio. 
Sonia - "Happy Birthday" because not one person on the face of this planet does not know it or will not know it. "Happy Birthday" is forever. On a serious note I wish I would have written a lot of  songs for different reasons. I can't pick one favourite but I'll tell you on of them, Dean Dillon and Hank Cochran "The Chair", brilliant. It's one of the greatest country songs ever written, it was recorded by George Strait and released August 26th 1985. "The Chair" was a big smash for US country music.
Who would you describe as your influences?
Sasha - I think I've been influenced by a lot of different genres and artists because my parents both liked different musical styles. My Dad was country music, Cat Stevens, The Beatles and Tina Turner, whereas Mum loves Motown, Simon & Garfunkel and The Rolling Stones. I think all of those artists and genres have had an influence on my music, as well as Elvis Presley who I've loved since I was 7 years old and artists like Zac Brown Band and of course Taylor Swift. With my writing, I've always written from real life experiences. My songs have always been like little diary entries that were meant to be sung. I though that was strange because other artists weren't really doing that, then Taylor came along and proved how far honestly gets you with the fans.
Sonia - Bruce Springsteen, The Killers, 2Pac, Stevie Nicks, the Eagles, CCR, Melissa Etheridge, Counting Crows, Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan, The Sounds, Passion Pit...it goes on and on, I'm a music schizophrenic.
You've been touring together for a few dates, how did that come about?
Sasha - It's a funny story actually. We had been talking on Twitter for a while because we have a mutual friend in Atlanta but whenever I'd be in Nashville, Sonia would be in the UK and vice versa. Then finally in January it clicked and we were able to meet up. That's when we found out we were both performing at C2C, on the same day and the same stage. I had already been planning on doing a tour and we got on so well that it made sense to do it together, especially with everything Sonia is doing over here with her single "When We Are Along". 
Sonia - We meet in Nashville Tennessee because my friend Mike Rizzi, who used to drum in my band, linked us up. I invited Sasha up to play a song at a writers round I was playing at a pub called Belcourt Taps. We had lunch the next day and Sasha asked me if I would be up for coming and touring. I said "hell yeah" after I choked on my burrito! [laughs] 
What do you enjoy most about performing live?
Sasha - I love being on stage, that's definitely my favourite part and always has been. When I was a kid, I enjoyed nothing more than putting on shows for the family on special occasions. I really like connecting with the fans and telling the stories behind my songs. It's an amazing feeling to be up there, especially when I'm singing my original material. I have to pinch myself on a regular basis.
Sonia -  The energy from the crowd, looking and seeing people into the music. Getting to also express myself and get some release, that's like a roller coaster ride!
Do you get nervous before a show? How do you deal with those nerves?
Sasha - I get nervous in the sense that I want to do a good job and you never know how engaged an audience is going to be. But I never get nervous in the sense I don't want to do on stage, it's more like I can't wait to get up there. I just take a deep breath and tell myself to put on the best show I can possible put on, whether there's 2 or 2,000 people in the crowd. 
Sonia - Yes, I get more anxious at certain times. But I kind of like it because that leads to energy on stage! How do you deal with those nerves? I do jumping jacks, it catches my body up with my heart rate!
What are your favourite and least favourite parts about being a musician?
Sasha - My favourite part is the performing. I also love the song-writing, meeting and talking with the fans and getting to travel to some amazing places. The background stuff isn't so fun. I'm unsigned and at this point I'm basically doing everything primarily myself with the support of my family. Most days I sit at the computer from 9am-1pm working on stuff to promote my music, sending emails and all of that. Probably the thing I dislike the most is realising how incestuous and deceptive the music industry is. When I started this professionally in 2012 I never realised how much it's all about the money. The reality of this industry is, if you have the money, you can get anywhere. You could have the best voice, the best songs, the best sound and be the most attractive person ever but if you're broke you're going to have to either win the lottery or have Lady Luck on your side. My parents are pensioner and my family sold whatever we could to make this happen for me and I've been very blessed to have some great opportunities that have led to a lot of things happening organically. But it's easy to get disheartened. Sometimes you do have to sit back and look at everything you've achieved and also never compare yourself to other artists, that's a killer. I'm happy with the path I'm on right now, it's all about the journey and it's been one hell of an epic journey so far.
Sonia - Favourite...meeting new people, travelling, performing, writing, musicianship. I love playing and the fellowship with other musicians. Worst...I can't get a pet because I am always on the road. I love animals. 
Thanks to Sasha and Sonia for their time! I would suggest fans of UK country music take a listen to I Stand Alone, I'm just not sure whether it will have a huge appeal, I felt as though a lot of the tracks missed something to really draw listeners in and make it a 'favourite album', meaning that the album as a whole comes across a little average. I will certainly be interested to hear how Sasha progresses from this release.

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