(Photo Credit - David Guenther)
Advance Review - Leeroy Stagger - Strange Path (September 13, 2019)
Leeroy Stagger’s new release, Strange Path, starts with an acoustic guitar rhythm with more and more layers building upon it. “Mother”, the first track, really showcases the rich texture musically that is pretty consistent through this album. The sound morphs into more of a classic Southern rock sound in “Deeper Well”. Whiplash is the name of the game with this work, however, and we get into a breathy, Modest Mouse sounding track with “Breaking News”, followed immediately by the funky, Muse evoking “Strange Attractor”. It slows down and gets breathy and acoustic in “Nobody Alive (Gets Out Of Here)”, kind of a modern day “Jack and Diane” of two poor kids dreaming of escaping their rundown small town. Whiplash again with the hard-driving “Jesus + Buddha” professing all the existential angst of a “post-truth world” in conversation between the Son of Man and the Enlightened One. A couple of more toned-down, folky, acoustic driven tracks, “These Things” and “Hey Hey (Song for Gord)” proceed and then a Leonard Cohen tribute in “Leonard Cohen (is Dead)”. We get shocked again into “Get to Love” with an electric guitar, bluesy dyad riff and finish things off with a light acoustic-based “The Light” reminding us that we are all just specks of light.
Much of the album, musically, is based on a rich texture of sound, a mix of electric and acoustic instrumentation, some mild synth work, Leeroy Stagger’s raspy tenor, and sound group participation in the vocals. However, to show that they’re not a one-trick pony, they mix things up with hard-driving riff-driven tracks. Lyrically and musically, the tradition of Canadian and American folk-rock artists is particularly evident, with obvious influence from Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young.
The message of the album is pretty clear: while things are crazy and it seems impossible to escape the troubles of this life, we must focus on the transcendental — that which is true, good, and beautiful — to get by. We’re all in this together and we are all connected. Adversity builds character and keeps us grounded. While we need to try to improve and make the world a better place, nobody alive gets out of here.
My Impression: A solid album with a good bit of diversity in the tracks. As a fan of Tom Petty and Neil Young I was impressed. I’d certainly listen to this album again, just maybe not in order. The whiplash is real.
Favorite track: “Get to Love”