Review: Jerry Leger, “The Time Flew By” EP

Jerry Leger, “The Time Flew By”

Toronto’s Jerry Leger is playing a big part in my life right now. I recently saw a few live clips on the GDW YouTube channel (where else would I need to go?). Editor and chief Martin had caught up with him and posted a few of the songs from the Tall Pines Music & Arts Festival. It immediately caught my attention, as melodic rock has always been my thing, and I don’t know why but it has always been my experience that such music is often best when sung by a slightly unkempt singer with that slight rock & roll swagger.

Watching these clips, Jerry looks and sounds like the real deal, and I was intrigued enough to listen to a few more tunes on his Bandcamp page, before being convinced that I needed to purchase a vinyl copy of his “Time Out For Tomorrow” album for my personal collection. Serendipity then, that “The Time Flew By,” his latest EP landed on my desk for review – a collection of four outtake songs that didn’t make the cut on each album Leger has made on Latent Recordings. But don’t let that put you off, as Jerry explains: “These are top shelf songs; they weren’t left off the albums because of their quality. Deciding which tracks make up an album can be very difficult and tricky. You have to take into account flow and cohesion. Sometimes the best songs are the ones that don’t make the final cut.”

Jerry Leger

Leger identifies his seminal influences as John Lennon, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Leonard Cohen, Elvis Costello, Neil Young, Tom Waits, Gordon Lightfoot, and The Everly Brothers, although notes that it was his grandfather who originally turned him onto Hank Williams, where he found intrigue a plenty in the way his songs told a story, conjuring up mysterious images in his head. You can hear elements of the above in tracks found in this collection. The EP kicks off with “Mean Payola,” from sessions recorded for last year’s full-length album, “Nothing Pressing.” It’s an updated twelve bar blues rocker that takes you with it in that time honoured tradition.

Second up, “We’re A Mess,” is a dusted-off outtake from 2014’s “Early Riser,” and Jerry is at a loss as to why it didn’t go on the record. It has a slower, more laid-back vibe, and quickly became a personal favourite of mine.  Leger shares the sentiment, and tries unsuccessfully to offer an explanation for its absence from the album: “Maybe I thought it was too much of a downer. I was in a low place when I wrote it, but realistically, you have to pick and choose ‘cause they all can’t go on the album.”

Jerry Leger

“What Baby Wants,” a cut from Jerry’s 2017 “Nonsense and Heartache” album once again leaves the artist scrambled, although revealing it did see the light of day in another guise: “I had forgotten about this version, but it’s ferocious! We also recorded a piano-led version for ‘Heartache’ and eventually I gave it to my side project The Del Fi’s, which came out on the second album, ‘Residuals,’ it’s pretty close to the ‘Heartache’ arrangement.”

The closing (and title) track didn’t quite fit into “Time Out For Tomorrow,” but Leger always thought it was special, keeping it in the back of his mind for a moment just like this: “The title came from a repeated phrase in a Kurt Vonnegut book I was reading. It sort of became a cross between Tom Waits’ ‘Martha’ and an old country-gospel end-of-life song.”

It’s a great way to end such a solid set of songs that just needed to see the light of day. Funny how Jerry came into my life, how we share the same influences – the last book I read was even Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five.”  Serendipity indeed!  If it only applied to lottery numbers, I’d be laughing all the way to the bank, but I’m still fortunate enough to be in a better place this week that I was last, and for that, I sincerely thank you Jerry!

Photo Credit: Laura Proctor

Music has been a lifelong passion, a journey that as a child embraced the late 60's counter culture and has lasted until the present day. Despite trying to play guitar for the best part of 45 years, to his own frustration, never much beyond the first four bars of “Stairway to Heaven.” A self-confessed vinyl junkie, his other interests include collecting music memorabilia, old Muhammad Ali fight programs, and watching film. He lives alone in Nottingham (England) and still uses the term “Groovy” - these two facts may be intrinsically connected.

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