Album Review – Logan Ledger (Self-Titled)

photo: Bella Mazzola

There was a time when a performer who proved their vocal prowess was something unique to a generation would be shepherded in front of microphones and audiences without prejudice, with all the walls and barriers falling in front of them to allow that voice to be broadcast to the masses for the betterment of everyone, even if the possessor of this unique talent was otherwise not traditionally suited for stardom, or was some sort of rube. It would be considered a sin to let such talent go to waste. But of course, these times are much different, when a lack of natural aptitude can be disguised in the studio mix, and commercial applicability is the primary concern of most in the industry. True talent is now just as much of a burden as an asset.

But those true talents still exist out there in the herd, and it was upon hearing the voice of Logan Ledger in a demo recording of his song “Let The Mermaids Flirt With Me” that legendary producer T Bone Burnett determined he’d struck gold, deciding to delay his impending retirement and tackle the task of attempting to insert Ledger into the conversation of popular music.

A songwriter from San Francisco who’d been biding his time playing pickup shows in east Nashville honky tonks, Logan Ledger was all of a sudden signed to Rounder Records, and recording with an all-star studio crew that included Marc Ribot, known for working with Tom Waits, as well as drummer Jay Bellerose and bassist Dennis Crouch. Along with T Bone Burnett, this is the same band that played on the Grammy-winning Album of the Year-winning Raising Sand by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. Also joining the sessions was guitarist and pedal steel player Russ Pahl, heard most notably on the records of Tyler Childers.

To this end, Logan Ledger’s long-anticipated debut album has arrived, though perhaps under slightly strained conditions, and with some delay, though no worse for the wear musically. Saving Country Music first warned the public of Logan Ledger’s emerging talent back in September of 2018, with a debut album expected sometime thereafter. But more time was allotted to allow Ledger’s name recognition and tour capacity to develop for this release. Now Coronavirus has quashed Leger’s tour plans once again, or at least delayed them until mid summer. But the album has finally been allowed to see the light of day.

“Vintage” is the only way to fairly catalog this self-titled release, with the influences of classic country, traditional pop, mod, and even a little early psychedelia appearing throughout these eleven tracks. If you’re thinking country, think more of Jim Reeves or early George Jones, and less Waylon Jennings. Think The Byrds meet Nashville. This is a refined style of roots music, perhaps more suitable for the intimate theater than the honky tonk, but still and raw and real from the emotional experience.

Logan Ledger not only shows his capacity for classic country crooning on the song “Starlight,” he also proves flexibility and depth by delivering more smooth performances on songs like the velvety Memphis vibe of “Tell Me a Lie,” or more of a Morrissey-style tone in one of the more arresting tracks on the record, “Electric Fantasy.”

This album may take an extra pass or two to warm up to due to the range of influences it calls upon, and since some of its more stellar tracks may have been previously heard by audiences, spoiling a bit of the surprise. But intent listening and patience is rewarded with the revelation of amazingly-written compositions like the beautiful “Invisible Blue,” or what might reign as one of the most dark and depressing songs released in quite some time, “Nobody Knows.”

What to do with Logan Ledger, and where he fits in the music world remains a bit of a mystery, even with this full-length release. The rednecks and honky-tonk hipsters may not immediately hit on this effort since it’s a little light on twang and other country signifyers, yet it may feel a little too Western for the mod rockers out there as well.

But one thing is undeniable: Logan Ledger has a special voice and the songwriting acumen to pair with it to be worth hearing and being heard. Hopefully that fate finds him and lifts his music out of obscurity to feed ears famished for true musical talent.

7.5/10

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