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LEEROY STAGGER —LOVE VERSUS (True North Records)

 

www.truenorthrecords.com

 

Leeroy Stagger (vocals, acoustic and electric guitar) was raised in Victoria British Columbia, and has by all accounts earned himself a respectable following this side of the pond. For one, he hasn’t been shy on coming over to the UK and with him opening with a song that’s direct, and joyful he starts the record away in a positive fashion before he becomes more serious as he tries to make sense of it all via the title-cut “Love Versus”. With him well and truly hitting his stride “Enemy Inside” hits plumb centre. Love Versus is the Canadian singer-songwriter’s 11th album, and with his love of contemporary sounds as pop, rock and Americana roots music primed by a set of players (Tyson Maiko, Pete Thomas, Paul Rigby, Geoff Hillhorst, Matthew Robinson and guests) who really stir the pot don't be surprised to see this album gain a great deal of attention. 

 

One of the most impressive and biggest attractions to the album is the manner Stagger follows his heart, and with a lot of things to say it is like he can’t wait to get his music to the listener. It’s the energy of the playing and his desire to go out on a limb, musically. Not hold back as he considers genres but let ‘er rip. “Little Brother” is a perfect example of this as he edges, tastily, into the outer regions of r&b and soul, and with him speaking in terms that he’s available to give support I suspect the song is especially close to his heart. In some ways Stagger reminds me of Belfast’s much missed, genial singer-songwriter Bap Kennedy, in the style he leans on blue-collar themes and likes to tell it as it is. “Joe Strummer and Joey Ramone” as you would expect races along at speed, and with Stagger speaking of how the world is struggling to cope with a population that contrasts greatly between the tragically poor, and the elite who get to eat near all the meat.

 

His opener “I Want it All” is him airing his views of how we should live, and how there needs is be more freedom and people are not to played for fools. As for the people he speaks of how they should let us show our love for one another, face to face and not just on the phone! Quick footed, though sad there's little piece “$1,500 A Day (Song For Elliott)”, before he moves, effortlessly into “Until The End Of Time”. Here he speaks of his wife and babies and him leaving them alone. I take he means when he is away on tour.      

 

                                                      Maurice Hope 

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Year 2016

1
Levi Parham
90 pts.
These American Blues
Music Road Records
GC,JBO,TK
2
Martha Fields
86 pts.
Southern White Lies
Independent
BP,BH,FB,JAB,RW,SP
3
Carter Sampson
75 pts.
Wilder Side
Independent/CRS
AN,CRS,JB
4
Anna Elizabeth Laube
65 pts.
Tree
Ahh...Pockets! Records
DH,NC
5
Michael McDermott
60 pts.
Willow Springs
Pauper Sky Records
BK,MM
6
Shovels & Rope
54 pts.
Little Seeds
New West
 
7
Robert Ellis
53 pts.
Robert Ellis
New West Records
DHO
8
Sturgill Simpson
52 pts.
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Atlantic Records
JJ,JF
9
Douglas Greer
50 pts.
Baja Louisiana
Zilker Park Records
HDB,ML
10
Lucinda Williams
46 pts.
The Ghosts Of Highway 20
Highway 20 Records
EM
11
Buddy Miller & Friends
44 pts.
Cayamo Sessions at Sea
New West Records
 
12
Wink Burcham
43 pts.
Cleveland Summer Nights
Continental Song City
 
13
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper
42 pts.
C&O Canal
Red Beet Records
BR
14
Brent Cobb
41 pts.
Shine On A Rainy Day
Elektra Records
HH
 
Daniel Romano
41 pts.
Mosey
New West
CVL
 
Leonard Cohen
41 pts.
You Want it Darker
Sony Music
HO
17
Christian Kjellvander
40 pts.
A Village: Natural Light
Tapete Records
BM
18
Drive-By Truckers
39 pts.
American Band
ATO Records
AR,EZ
19
Birds of Chicago
38 pts.
Real Midnight
Five Head Entertainment
LM,SZ
20
John Prine
37 pts.
For Better, or Worse
Oh Boy Records
FS,MB
21
The Cactus Blossoms
36 pts.
You’re Dreaming
Red House Records
GS,HD
22
Richmond Fontaine
35 pts.
You Can’t Go Back
Décor Records
FCE
23
Gillian Welch
34 pts.
Boots No.1: The Official Revival Bootleg
Acony Records
LK,PR,TJ
24
Sarah Jarosz
33 pts.
Undercurrent
Sugar Hill
RM
25
Joe Purdy
32 pts.
Who Will Be Next?
Mudtown Crier Records
AL
 
The Devil Makes Three
32 pts.
Redemption & Ruin
New West

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