Jerry Leger’s upcoming album, Nonsense And Heartache is equal parts primal rock and roll, and raw, confessional balladry. The separation between the two is evident by the album’s title, and it is in fact two distinct collections of songs presented on two slabs of vinyl. In many ways, Jerry Leger’s artistic path has been leading up to this ambitious display of both sides of his musical personality, fueled by countless nights playing in clubs and bars with a loyal band equally committed to keeping rock and roll’s original flame burning.
Due out March 31 via Latent Recordings, the first single from Nonsense And Heartache, “The Big Smoke Blues” is “basically about trying to find your place and survive in the big city while maintaining your integrity and a roof over your head,” says Leger.
Employing his distinctive live-off-the-floor recording approach on Nonsense And Heartache, producer Michael Timmins (Cowboy Junkies) focused on capturing the chemistry between Leger and his core musicians: multi-instrumentalist James McKie, bassist Dan Mock, and drummer Kyle Sullivan, along with guest vocalist Angie Hilts. The ragged-but-right results perfectly complement Leger’s tales of characters on the fringe, attempting to unravel life’s mysteries.
Leger describes the album himself by saying, “Mike came up with the idea of doing a double album, but it’s really two different records – Nonsense and Heartache – packaged into one. He had the idea to record one album as electric, bluesy, dirty rock and roll, with James and I on electric guitars, Dan on electric bass and Kyle bashing away. The other album was intended to be more of a singer/songwriter record with me on acoustic guitar or piano, James on fiddle or lap steel, Dan on upright and Kyle using brushes and percussion. So, it’s not an ego trip for either of us. It just felt like it made more sense to put them together, plus the fact that neither is overly long, just about 35 minutes each.”
The relationship between Leger and Timmins also works so well because, as songwriters, each shares a fondness for arcane Americana. There is plenty of rich detail in tracks like “Another Dead Radio Star” and “Pawn Shop Piano” that, depending on your perspective, could evoke either the past or present. The former references the famous Orson Welles-voiced character The Shadow, which Leger found to be an ideal metaphor. “That image kind of runs through the whole song as a way of describing what we’ve lost, but at the same time never completely goes away,” he says.
‘Pawn Shop Piano’ I think describes how I live my life in some ways – the antique and junk shops, the day-to-day living, the debts. It also has a couple references I had written down from years earlier when I toured the U.S. for the first time. We found a cheap motel in the middle of the night somewhere in West Virginia called the Travel Lite, which was a scary joint. And in Johnson City, Tennessee we stumbled upon a pawn shop called Diamonds & Guns that had a really cool hand-painted sign. Things like that often stick with me until I find a home for them.”
JERRY LEGER ON TOUR
Apr 5 – Toronto, ON – Monarch Pub (Album Release Show)
Apr 28 – Kemptville, ON – South Branch Bistro
Apr 29 – Brockville, ON – Spitfire Cafe
May 2 – Moncton, NB – Plan b
May 3 – Antigonish, NS – The Townhouse
May 4 – Mount Stewart, PEI – Trailside Inn
May 5 – Halifax, NS – TBD
May 6 – Kingston, NB – House Show
Jun 7 – Winnipeg, MB – Good Will Social Club
Jun 9 – Dauphin, MB – Bruce’s Firehouse House Show
Jun 11 – Calgary, AB – The Ironwood
Jun 15 – Kelowna, BC – Fernando’s
MORE DATES TBA
JERRY LEGER ONLINE