“Bari Leigh is set to explode with her infectious mix of pop, country, blues and soul…(a) buzz-worthy artist.” – Entertainment Tonight (CBS)

It has been said that you can’t get to courage without walking through vulnerability. Southern-rock singer-songwriter Bari Leigh embodies this maxim to the hilt. The constant throughout her empowering journey is her emotional authenticity in knowing when to be tough and when to be tender. These extremes are harmoniously reflected on her fierce and compelling release, Honey & Gravel, out April 28 (Starfish Music).

Bari’s dynamic and warmly organic sensibility encompasses Southern-fried riff rock, Motown, country, classic soul, blues, and R&B.  She proudly embraces the tradition of brazen female vocalists who shattered paradigms and left a trail of broken hearts. Surrounded by powerful women, Leigh studied the work of the iconic female artists who came before her, citing Janis Joplin, Bobbie Gentry, Patsy Cline and Etta James as her biggest influences.

Bari’s previous releases (The EP in 2010 and Tonight, I’m Unchained in 2014) have garnered acclaim from Nashville Lifestyles Magazine, The ExaminerThe TennesseanJustine Magazine (“strong and soulful… [a] powerhouse voice with a twang [that] gives us chills”) and The Boot as well as being embraced by international and college radio, among other taste-making outlets. In addition, she has been featured on CBS’s “Entertainment Tonight”, “Voice of America: Border Crossings” and Oxygen’s “Bad Girls Club” to name a few.

There is dualism coursing through Bari’s spirit. Her lyrics range from tender, soulful emotionality to bad girl mischievousness and her singing spans smooth-as-butter sensuality to raucous, swamp-rock swagger. Her third album’s title, Honey & Gravel, perfectly captures this wonderfully paradoxical disposition. The six-song album (plus a bonus cut if you purchase via iTunes) is a triumphant salvo after a physically, emotionally, and spiritually depleting time.

In the summer of 2015, Bari contracted Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever after being bitten by a tick while hiking during a two-day break from a 350-date tour. Back on the road, she began to feel ill, suffering from extreme pain, intense fever, sudden blindness and acute loss of strength. Repercussions from the illness would span a difficult year and a half and Bari decided to write, record and co-produce Honey & Gravel as she recovered.

The title Honey & Gravel refers to an affectionate nickname given to Leigh by an industry colleague, as she can be both a sweetheart and a certified badass. On the gravel side of things is the pastoral acoustic pop of “What’s Left” and the recklessly fun country rocker “Preachin’ To The Choir.” The former track is a feminine anthem of not letting a lover get the best of you: “I’ll light one up and toughen up,” while the swaggering “Preachin’ To The Choir” represents Bari’s independent spirit and feisty nature: “I’m as torn as the holes in my jeans, there ain’t enough water to wash these hands clean.”

“Parsons” and “Cuz It’s Broken” are vulnerable moments where Bari exposes her softer side. The dreamy “Parsons” snapshots a painful image of an ex sending his best friend to pick up his clothes from her front porch, each line written as it was occurring. Accompanied by eerie, haunting guitars, Bari sings “Cuz It’s Broken” with seething soulfulness as she proclaims, “you were a perfect mistake, but I promise, honey you won’t be mine.”

In exploring the duality inherent in Honey & Gravel, Bari learned a profound lesson in optimism. “Creating this music helped me truly find myself.” She concludes: “If you keep your head held high and your boots on the ground, you can find light in the darkest times.”