Leeroy Stagger has been one of my favorite singer-songwriters for a couple years now. He makes rock and roll music, but is more easily lumped into the alternative country bin. He’s been on an incredible stretch of astonishingly good releases dating back to 2006’s Depression River. Just last year, he released Acoustic Volume One, an acoustic look back on his entire catalog. That album showcased just how many great tunes the young Canadian has written in the last decade. If life was fair and there was some sense of balance in the universe, Leeroy Stagger would be as big as Ryan Adams, Jeff Tweedy, or the newly anointed Ryan Bingham. He combines great songwriting with a classic perspective on rock and roll that reaches back through grunge, punk, classic rock, R&B and rockabilly. This diversity is what makes Stagger special. He is a true original, yet indebted to a tradition that he continues, one record, one gig, and one song at a time.
All that being said, Little Victories is by far the most depressing Leeroy Stagger record I’ve had the pleasure of listening too. From the opener to “Everyones On Drugs” to songs like “Waste Of A Wedding” and “Poor Little Rockstar”, the record doesn’t have too many bright spots or as Stagger might say ‘little victories’. What makes the record remarkable is the performances of the songs are spot on. Every song is recorded perfectly, whether its electric or pedal steel guitars, a banjo or a B-3, Stagger stacks the record with masterful backing. A favorite of mine is the slightly less depressing “Sit Around the House” with its bouncy guitar line and effortless vocal. Other favorites include the acoustic ruminating “George’s Blues”, the piano dirge of a closer “Love Will Let You Down”, and one of the few truly bright spots the pulsating penultimate track “I Believe In Love”.
So while I don’t think this is the record I would use to introduced new fans to Stagger’s music, it’s every bit as strong as any other record in his catalog. It’s an important piece to the puzzle, but not the definitive statement that Everything Is Real or Depression River could have claimed to be. But not every record can be Exile On Main Street or Damn the Torpedoes, not every record needs to be. Stagger has downshifted back into a lower gear just to see what the engine’s roar feels like. Lucky for us, he can still make it sound beautiful.
You can pick up Little Victories for a cool 10 bucks on bandcamp, here.
About the author: Specializes in Dead, Drunk, and Nakedness..... Former College Radio DJ and Current Craft Beer Nerd