Leeroy Stagger Solo Acoustic Vol. 1 is exactly what it’s advertised as. It’s just Leeroy: guitar, voice, and harmonica. Of the 15 tracks all but 3 have been previously released. The songs are presented here in stark simplicity, often in great contrast to their original versions. In summation, this album all but proves what I’ve been saying for a couple years now: Leeroy Stagger is one of his generation’s best songwriters, bar none. He’s twice as consistent as Ryan Adams, and every bit as convincing as Ben Nichols or Craig Finn. But there is no need to take my word for it. Just listen to Solo Acoustic or either of his last two records Everything Is Real and Depression River or his collaboration with Tim Easton and Evan Phillips (the Whipsaws) One For the Ditch. You’ll see what I mean.
Now to the songs presented here. I could have used an acoustic version of “100 Million Reasons” from Leeroy’s debut Dear Love (see above for youtube version), as it is the songs from that album that benefit the most from the stripped down production, particularly “House of Sin” and “Bloody Guitars.” Other standouts include the reworked renditions of “Carol” and “Depression River.” The latter of which is one of the few Leeroy’s rockers where I actually prefer the acoustic version. The haunting lyrics stick with you even more in the stark presentation, “three kids got killed that summer/ and one of them was brother/ three kids got laid in the dirt and mud/ by their fathers and mothers.”
The new songs are of course excellent. “Fall Apart” sounds like classic Stagger composition with its loping guitar and gorgeous harmonica work. “Mister” may be my favorite of the new ones with its story of a guy trying to get on the straight and narrow (not unlike a Patterson Hood song) and lines like “got my share of problems/ bet you got ‘em too/ it’s what people like me got in common with people like you.” “Georges Blues” has been floating around the internet for a while and is another welcome addition here. The song sounds as if Townes Van Zandt had sat down and co-wrote a song with Chris Knight.
RIYL: Neil Young, Whiskeytown, Tim Easton, good songs
About the author: Specializes in Dead, Drunk, and Nakedness..... Former College Radio DJ and Current Craft Beer Nerd