Mackenzie Leighton is a rising San Diego-born, Paris-based indie folk singer/songwriter and musician. Leighton’s family moved to a small, seaside town in Maine, where she grew up and spent her formative years. Interestingly, the San Diego-born, Paris-based singer/songwriter can trace much of the origins of her music career to her youth: her father took her to classical piano lessons as a girl. When Leighton turned 18, she attended my alma mater, New York University — and while in New York, she played in several jazz and folk inspired bands.
Upon graduation, Leighton relocated to Paris. She landed a day job as a florist and launched a solo career with the release of 2017’s self-titled EP, a singer/songwriter folk effort that was released to praise and comparisons to Phoebe Bridgers and Julia Jacklin. Leighton’s sophomore EP, last year’s Tourist(e) was a decided change in sonic direction that found the rising American-born, French-based artist working with French musicians and producers while pairing folk-inspired songwriting with lush yet contemporary instrumentation and production. Leighton has supported both of her recorded efforts with shows in and around Paris, as well as with tours in Italy, Belgium and here in the States.
Released late last month, Leighton’s third EP Fleuriste thematically finds the rising American-born, French-based artist focusing on the reality of life as an expatriate: constantly torn between two different cultures and hemispheres. Sonically, Fleuriste continues in a similar vein as its immediate predecessor with Leighton pairing folk-inspired songwriting with lush, modern production.
In the buildup to the EP’s release, I managed to write about two of the EP’s singles:
- “Un jour la vie,” a playful and infectious invitation to dream of an escape to Italy, to drink endless Aperol Spritzes and to dance the night away without a care in the world, centered around Leighton’s coquettish vocals, a sinuous yet propulsive bass line and shimmering guitars.
- EP title track “Flueriste,” a hook-driven pop confection that focuses on the plight of musicians unable to work because of the pandemic — but full of hopes of a bright future of live shows and all of the things we missed so much.
Fleuriste’s fourth and latest single “Mona by the Seaside” continues a remarkable run of breezy and infectious hook-driven pop. While telling a tale about how her friend Mona is waiting for her at the shore for summertime fun, the song manages to possess an underlying bittersweet air to its infectious breeziness — as though
But underneath the song’s breezy and summery feel is a bittersweet nostalgia for easy-going summer days and nights with friends paired with a story about how Leighton’s dear friend Mona is waiting at the beach for her — as though the song is filled with the achingly sad recognition that nothing is forever and that those good times may soon be behind us.
Directed, shot and edited by Mona Boitière, the recently released video for “Mona by the Seaside” continues a run of playful visuals: in this case, we follow Leighton getting ready to drive to her friend. We then see the pair of friends having a fantastic time playing and dancing. And based on their enormous smiles, you’d want to join in on the fun.