Logan Ledger | Logan Ledger | (Rounder)
4 out of 5 stars
For those who lament that no one has appeared after iconic country/rockabilly crooners like Elvis, Roy Orbison and George Jones to replace that distinctive American sound, Logan Ledger would like to spend a few minutes with you. Actually, he’d like to spend 41 minutes, the length of his debut, 11-track album, due out April 3.
To be fair, others such as Robert Gordon and Chris Isaak have made inroads that referenced those legends’ distinguishing styles with similar, strongly-influenced approaches. But Ledger’s inexplicably delayed album — he has been playing selections from it for almost two years — captures the melancholy “only the lonely” vibe that’s not just difficult to replicate vocally, but musically seems lost to the land of oldies radio.
Logan’s smooth, near-operatic voice initially draws you into his shimmering noir world of desolate souls wandering deserted, rain-drenched backstreets before dawn. But songs such as “Invisible Blue” with its reverbed baritone guitar and color-saturated lyric of “There’s a blue you can’t see/but boy you can feel,” and the tearful, pedal steel sobbing “Tell Me a Lie,” sung by a tearful, heartbroken protagonist, show that Logan writes ‘em as well as he sings ‘em. Kudos to roots-producing maestro T Bone Burnett who realizes Ledger’s idiosyncratic vision with clean, unfussy production and backing from longtime associates such as guitarist Marc Ribot and drummer Jay Bellerose.
Ledger also gets assistance from veteran songsmiths John Paul White (“Tell Me a Lie”), Steve Earle (“The Lights of San Francisco”) and a few others. But solo-penned tracks like the bittersweet closing “Imagining Raindrops” that could have been a George Jones hit, and the after-hours, Sinatra circa In the Wee Small Hours styled “Nobody Knows” are some of his most delicate, poignant and sweetly nostalgic selections.
This blend of subtle rockabilly, countypolitan and American Songbook stylings makes Ledger’s album a reminder that when great songs meet terrific singers, the result is timeless music with universal feelings that are never dated.