Andrew Leahey And The Homestead: Airwaves

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Andrew Leahey & the Homestead
Airwaves
(Skyline Music)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“We’re torchbearers of a sound that’s bigger than us …” says singer-songwriter and guitarist Andrew Leahey about the vibe of this sophomore album. And it won’t take long after pushing play on the rollicking opener “Start The Dance” to understand what he means. Chunky, ringing guitar chords mesh with crashing drums, slabs of organ and an insistent rhythm somewhere between the Byrds, T Rex and Tom Petty for a cascading rock and roll juggernaut. It’s a near perfect way to kick off 10 additional tunes, all stitched from the same basic cloth that’ll put you back in the late ’80s frame of mind that influenced Leahey and his overall stylistic attack.

While there may be a little too much reliance on Petty and his Heartbreakers’ swirling, chiming, guitar-based rocking, especially in tracks like the striking “Remember This” (which even name-checks Stevie Nicks), it’s impossible to fault Leahey’s sources and his knack for hooks so rugged you can lift a car with them. His boyish vocals exude the sheer enjoyment of the music he creates with an undiluted, unaffected sense of fun. That’s true in even in the more serious lyrical moments like “Karyn” whose namesake protagonist goes from working in a gas station to being hunted by the police, forcing her to leave the country.

The album was cut mostly live in about 10 days, which is reflected in the disc’s crackling immediacy. Leahey doesn’t alter his rocking approach often, but when he does on the lovely “We Came Here To Run,” the layered guitars and swashes of keyboards boost the tune into a widescreen epic urging the listener to make the most of life. 

The backstory of how the Nashville based musician and journalist not only recovered from a life-threatening brain operation, but proceeded to tour and play 180 shows in 2016 in support of his debut, is inspiration enough. That harrowing experience gave him a philosophical boost that can be felt in every note here. From the country-inflected, lovelorn “Flyover County” to the crunchy, Cracker-styled “Working Ain’t Working,” this is very much American music, even down to the stirring cover of the UK’s Echo & the Bunnymen hit “Lips Like Sugar.” Perhaps, not surprisingly, there are numerous lyrical references to the radio (“Turn the circle on the FM dial”), but when he sings “Turn the radio dial to find some kind of better sound” you’ll hope that whatever station he lands on plays rousing music similar to what’s on Airwaves.

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