ONE HIT WONDERS – Leonardo’s Bride


Even When I’m Sleeping (A Dobson/D Manning) – Leonardo’s Bride 1997

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The two founders of Leonardo’s Bride, Abby Dobson and Dean Manning, performed as a duo for the first time at an open mic night at the Crossroads Theatre in Sydney. In March 1990 the duo began writing songs together and then travelled around Europe and the United States busking and playing in clubs and bars, doing 250 shows over sixteen months.

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In 1992 they formed the band Leonardo’s Bride in Sydney, the name was inspired by the genius of Leonardo de Vinci, comprising Abby Dobson (vocals/acoustic guitar) and Dean Manning (guitar/keyboards) and subsequently added John Gauci (organ/keyboards), Patrick Hyndes (aka Patrick Wong, bass) and Jon Howell (drums) to the group, they were an indie rock/pop/acoustic folkie crossover band, who released their eponymously-titled debut four-track EP in 1993, and their first album, Angel Blood in 1997.


Dobson and Manning were partners when Even When I’m Sleeping was written, and after a fight between them one night, Dobson went to sleep but Manning wanted to convey his affection for his girlfriend before he retired, and to ensure that she was reminded of this upon awakening.


He attached post-it notes around their house in specific locations “I Iove you even when your washing”, “I love you even when you’re eating, “I love you even when you’re leaving’ and “I love you even when you’re sleeping”, it had the desired effect, Abby was impressed and she and Manning went on to compose the song that became the band’s only hit.

Even When I’m Sleeping is a sweetly engaging love ballad, quite different from much of the group’s ouvre, and for this reason it was not initially regarded as a potential single release or even for inclusion on their debut album. It was not the first single lifted of Angel Blood, So Brand New was but it failed to impress, however Even…became the second single, and it had an immediate impact.

A haunting, hymnal, heartbreak song.

Lyrically the song is about the essence of true love, how it brings you near though you are physically apart, bridges the gap between fiction and reality, replaces doubt and ignorance with belief and confidence in another person, “Don’t be confused by my apparent lack of ceremony/ My mind is clear/ I may be low or miles high off in the distance/ I want you near/ I love you, even when I’m sleeping/ When I close my eyes you’re everywhere.”

The record was produced by Justin Stanley at Megaphone Studios in Sydney, his credits included Beck, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Paul McCartney, Jet and Noiseworks, and here he brought a quiet authority and sparseness to the production, stripping the song bare of artifice and glossy techniques. Abby Dobson delivered a bravura solo vocal performance of great sensitivity, drama and conviction, there were no backing singers or choirs. Acoustic guitar, piano and drums provided a subtle yet insistent soundscape for Dobson’s keening vocals, it was deemed to be one of the best songs ever recorded in Australia as acknowledged by APRA who ranked it in the top 30 songs of the era 1926-2001, it charted #4 locally and was accredited as APRA’s Song of the Year in 1997.


Leonardo’s Bride would perform this song at the Mushroom Records 25th Anniversary Concert in 1998 along with other Mushroom luminaries including Kylie Minogue, Jimmy Barnes, Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, the Angels, and Paul Kelly, before a massive crowd at the MCG.

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The group disbanded in 2001, due to Abby Dobson’s ill health – rheumatoid arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome- but returned to live performing in 2013 at the Byron Bay Bluesfest where they were warmly received. Dobson was encouraged to audition for a spot on The Voice in 2013 by Season 1 runner-up Darren Percival, and in what was an ill-judged and insensitive decision, was rejected by the judges, who listened to her performance without seeing or knowing who she was, as they were using the highly contrived “blind audition” format. Abby was struggling financially at the time, and just needed to make a living, there was embarrassment all round when the judges realized that they had just rejected a former APRA Song of the Year winner, and one of Australia’s most distinctive voices, as none of the judging panel actually recognized her voice – the panel of Delta Goodrem, Seal, Ricky Martin and Joel Madden – were blind in more ways than one that night. Below Dobson with actor Vince Colosimo, insert Colosimo with former partner Diana Glenn.


IMPORTANT MESSAGE- 4TR will be on vacation for several weeks from November 16 – 25, returning on Tuesday November 30th, in the meantime keep in touch, stay well, and listen to the music.

Graeme Davy

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