When I receive a strong recommendation about an artist from a good friend, I take note, and file the name away for a rainy day. When a second endorsement is sent my way from another trusted friend (and professional musician, in this instance) just a short time later, I definitely pay attention. The name being dropped was that of Jerry Leger, a Toronto-based singer-songwriter who debuted on the Roots-Americana music scene back in 2005. While I was glad to be introduced to this talented artist, I remain a tad embarrassed that it took this long for his music to cross my path just a few months ago.
We recently shared the amazing video released by Jerry Leger & The Situation for “Read Between The Lines,” a single taken from his 2019 “Time Out For Tomorrow” album, which quickly became a firm favorite here in the GDW household. Just a few days later, I would begin hearing frequent airings of “Canvas of Gold,” another track from the same album, during my daily commutes. Boasting some great vocals, lyrics that easily rival those of Bob Dylan, and some sweet instrumentation (I am so easily sold on vintage guitar riffs and pedal steel, as you all know), “Canvas of Gold” got under my skin very quickly. From unheard to very-much heard, the earworms were planted, and I must confess to have spent many, many hours listening to repeat plays of this outstanding album over the last couple of months.
I can say with complete conviction that if I had been fortunate to have heard this album last year, it would have easily made my annual Top 20 albums list that I enjoy compiling at year end, and is strong enough to have contended for my top four. Very few albums can be considered instant classics whilst still in their early days of circulation and appreciation, but the more I listen, the more I am convinced that this is a truly exceptional collection of songs worthy of such a distinction. Tracks such as the slow-moving “Survived Like A Stone,” with some great guitar and violin trade-offs, and the Tom Petty/Jeff Lynne sounding “Justine” are pure joy to hear. “Read Between The Lines” and “Tell A Lie” boast some phenomenal vintage guitar tones that transport you back to the golden era when romanticism and rock ‘n’ roll intersected; go ahead and try to date stamp these as 2019 tunes – they truly are timeless. Kudos to both Leger and producer Michael Timmins (The Cowboy Junkies) for their outstanding collaborative vision and execution on this release.
Like many of our friends in the Canadian music community, Jerry Leger is heeding the advice to stay home and self-isolate right now during the Covid-19 outbreak; which unfortunately includes making the heartbreaking decision to postpone his upcoming extensive European tour. For an independent artist such as Leger, the harsh realities of recouping investments made in travel and tour scheduling, along with the pitfalls of the lost-revenue that should follow, is a wake-up call to the entire arts and culture communities to whom we all turn for our entertainment and enjoyment needs. Sure, there are an abundance of live-streamed mini-concerts popping up all over social media outlets right now, which is a great way for artists to continue to connect with their fans, but just how far can online tip jars and donation requests help our friends to sustain their cost of living? I could insert the whole “here’s what we have to do” speech here, but will simply remind you that every extra song streamed, every extra social media post shared, and every extra merchandise purchase made is so very important right now to this community.
With the very recent release of his brand new, digital only “Songs From The Apartment” album (released via Bandcamp on March 20, 2020), Jerry Leger epitomizes any statements that isolation breeds self-reflection and creativity. And what a gem of an album this happens to be. A lo-fi collection of songs recorded solo at home, most of which have been written, quickly demoed, and forgotten about. The performances are relaxed, intimate and raw. Go ahead and marvel at the outstanding alt-country and blues sounding “Hoodoo Brown,” in which Leger shares some stunning acoustic guitar work. Enjoy the uplifting piano keys of “You & Louise,” along with Jerry’s vocals delivered in a charming Dylan-meets-Beatles manner. “Songs From The Apartment” may not be a perfectly polished diamond here, but Leger’s authenticity shines through on each and every track, leaving no doubt that the physical confinement of his four walls has not lessened, but further fostered his creativity.
“Leaving now / Leaving now / Babe, we’re out of time / All I can say / It’s better this way / As long as I numb my mind,” Jerry recites during “Leaving Now,” one of my personal favorites found on this release. “It’s a hard time when you can’t defend / Those words when they’re spoken so hard / The last thing I heard was the door slam in for (sic) her / And I drove off in an old dying car.” Leaving now – two words that perfectly capture the sentiments of many who remain ever hopeful that days of self-isolation will soon pass us by.
This one’s for you Joe D – thanks for recommending Jerry’s music to me.
Photo Credit: LPPhotographs