Critically-acclaimed Canadian singer-songwriter Jerry Leger has today shared the second single "Slow Night In Nowhere Town" from his forthcoming new studio album Donlands on October 27, once again via Cowboy Junkies’ label Latent Recordings.
Leger says of the track: "To me, this song has a cinematic quality. I see bright neon lights and no one around. It has a windshield wiper rhythm, which I think is perfect for the atmosphere of the track."
Leger was last in the UK for an extensive tour in May, following the release of his widely-praised EPs Latent Uncovers and The Time Flew By.
As Toronto’s music scene has grown in stature on the world stage, singer/songwriter Jerry Leger has been making his own significant contributions. A favourite of Uncut Magazine (“The gently sardonic, arch wordplay and country-rock twang recall Nick Lowe.") and Rolling Stone, Leger has also earned the praise of fellow artists Ron Sexsmith (“he’s the real deal”) and Doug Paisley, while maintaining a long relationship with Cowboy Junkies as part of their Latent Recordings roster, with their songwriter/guitarist Michael Timmins serving as producer.
On his new album Donlands, Leger has taken a different approach, teaming up with legendary Canadian producer/engineer Mark Howard (Lucinda Williams, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Neil Young), whose trademark atmospheric sound adds an entirely new dimension to Leger’s approach. Named after the street in Toronto’s east end where it was recorded, in what once was the Donlands Theatre, Donlands presents Jerry Leger as he’s never been heard before.
“Not a lot of people make records like Mark Howard anymore,” Leger says. “After I got to tell him how much Tom Waits’s Real Gone meant to me, I fell right into the experience. Like all my albums, we recorded Donlands mostly live in the studio with my band The Situation [Dan Mock, Kyle Sullivan, Alan Zemaitis] in a circle—no headphones, just listening and existing, breathing as a whole. To me, it’s a record that lives in its own world. Since I was a little kid, I've loved how recordings like The Flamingos’ ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’ and ‘Pledging My Love’ by Johnny Ace sound so haunting. I knew Mark could get us that, with the right choice of material.”
Leger began by sending Howard 20 demos and was pleasantly surprised when they basically agreed on which 10 should comprise the record. From there, he describes the process as treating each song like a blank canvas, building up arrangements with the help of engineer Aaron Goldstein, who also added pedal steel and guitar to several tracks. But overall, Leger says it all came down to the atmosphere Howard created. He says the experience felt almost like creating a film noir soundtrack, with something unknown always lurking in the shadows.
That certainly comes across on songs like “I Was Right To Doubt Her,” with its spooky organ and Spanish-style percussion recalling Howard’s work on Willie Nelson’s Teatro. But mostly, Leger wears his poetic heart firmly on his sleeve on “Three Hours Ahead Of Midnight” and “The Flower And The Dirt,” songs that underscore Leger’s uncommon ability to pen timeless music and lyrics. Further, as on the Roy Orbison-esque opening track “Sort Me Out,” and the heart-wrenching piano ballad “Wounded Wing,” Leger digs deep to express the strength and resolve we’ve all needed to get through the past few years. He says, “This record is a place I've known about and where I’ve always wanted to live, so it was a nice and rewarding visit. It's another piece of me that floats in a dream. It's surreal at times, just like writing can be surreal.”
Donlands comes to an appropriate close with “Slow Night In Nowhere Town,” in which the movie ends and we walk out of the theatre into a steady downpour, unsure of whether to go home or just keep moving. For Jerry Leger, the search for the elusive creative spark remains never-ending, but there are always new routes to explore in getting to it. With Donlands, he has made an album that stands as one of the peak moments in an already towering body of work.
Leger will take to the road internationally for live shows during the coming months. Dates below with more to be announced.
Oct 4 - Dakota Tavern, Toronto, ON *
Oct 5 - The Casbah, Hamilton, ON *
Oct 6 - The Ganaraska Hotel, Port Hope, ON *
Oct 7 - Red Bird Live, Ottawa, ON *
Oct 14 - Greenbank Folk Music Society, Greenbank, ON ^
Oct 21 - Ramblin' Roots Fest, Utrecht, NL
Oct 24 - Q Bus, Leiden, NL
Oct 26 - JuBB, Essen-Werden, DE
Oct 27 - Alte Dorfschänke, Rinkerode, DE
Oct 28 - Rootzz Fest, Breda, NL
Oct 29 - Grenswerk, Venlo, NL (supporting The Sadies)
Nov 4 - Take Root Fest, Groningen, NL
Nov 7 - Loophole, Berlin, DE
Nov 18 - Massey Hall, Toronto, ON (part of "The Last Waltz" celebration) #
Nov 25 - The Gasworks, Hamilton, ON
Nov 29 - TD Music Hall at Massey Hall, Toronto, ON ('Donlands' hometown release show)
All shows with full band except:
* opening solo for Katie Cruel
^ opening solo for Showman & Coole
# performing with Chest Fever