Jerry Leger – Nonsense And Heartache
Latent – 2 March 2018
Jerry Leger is signed to Latent Records, the label run by Michael Timmins from The Cowboy Junkies, who also serves as producer on the Toronto-based singer-songwriter’s tenth album. It’s a two-disc affair, split predominantly, but not exclusively, between the highly charged, driving electric rock n roll Nonsense and the more acoustic confessional balladry of Heartache, folk and blues being the genres uniting the two.
Recorded live off the floor, the dominant influence on the first disc is inescapable, drawing heavily on mid-60s Dylan, especially in Leger’s nasal drawl, opening with the loping Muddy Waters blues of Coat On The Rack, shifting to Dan Mock’s Shakin’ All Over bass riff for the urgent Forged Check with its gospel-styled chorus and heading straight down Highway 51 Revisited on the burning rubber of Baby’s Got A Rare Gun.
The remaining cuts on this 35 minute collection swing the pace between full tilt and a more strung out approach, the former repped with The Big Smoke Blues, which shifts from Dylan echoes to more suggest Tom Petty exploring Bob Marley’s reggae grooves, while the latter finds expression in the drawled slow blues The Fishing Line, For Hire with its Lennon hints. Following the atypical folksier and more muted Wedding Dress with its melodic nods to Townes Van Zandt, the disc closes in epic seven-minute form with She’s The Best Writer You’ve Never Heard Of, a return to Dylan territory with rowdy intro settling down to a walking bass riff and prowling electric guitars, Leger rawly shouting out the title line.
Shifting to the second disc, equally clocking in around 35 minutes, the musical contrast is immediately felt with the twangy opening Things Are Changing Around Here with its slide licks, chorus hook and rolling melody line, sliding into the jaunty, lap steel flavoured sexually charged country pop Troubled Morn.
Melancholia and reflection on mistakes made are the keynotes on the pared down, acoustic strummed It Don’t Make The Wrong Go Away, harking more to the Dylan of New Morning. Things are more electric on the desert guitar mood of Another Dead Radio Star with its reference to the classic 1930s Orson Welles radio serial The Shadow.
Angie Hilts lends her harmonies to the piano-backed and shimmering cymbals achingly sad Lucy and Little Billy The Kid before the tempo picks back up with the feel-good folk-pop chiming and chugging The Great Unknown, James McKie’s soaring fiddle returning in a more melancholic frame of mind on the wistful Take The Ashes And Run.
Leger’s back behind the piano for He’s The Lonely One Now with its echoes of both Lennon and Neil Young, the album rounding out with, first, the fiddle-fuelled train rolling rhythm of Buckskin Wall and, finally, the resonant old barroom joanna notes of the slow waltzing laid-back lifestyle imagery of Pawn Shop Piano.
Over the years, Leger’s been gradually establishing himself as a figure of note in the Canadian music scene, this album finds him ready to take on far wider horizons.
Jerry Leger & The Situation Tour Dates:
April 5 – Altes Stellwerk, Solingen, Germany
April 6 – Cafe Lichtung, Cologne, Germany
April 8 – Down By River Festival, Venlo
April 9 – O’Ceallaigh, Groningen, Netherlands
April 10 – Q Bus, Leiden, Netherlands
April 12 – Prachtwerk, Berlin, Germany
April 13 – Music Star, Norderstedt, Germany
April 14 – Cafe Scheune, Wredenhagen, Germany
April 17 – Folk A Rock, Malmo, Sweden
April 18 – Mono, Oslo, Norway
April 19 – Norway TBA
April 20 – Amemoen Gard, Ringebu, Norway
April 21 – Skebopuben, Skebobruk, Sweden
April 22 – Spirit Store, Dundalk, Ireland
April 24 – Black Box Green Room, Belfast.
April 25 – The Hug and Pint, Glasgow, Scotland
April 26 – Old Cinema Launderette, Durham, England
April 27 – The Eagle Inn, Salford (Greater Manchester), England
April 28 – The Hyde Tavern, Winchester, England
April 29 – Come Down and Meet The Folks, London, England