When you hear Logan Ledger for the first time it’s easy to imagine that what you’re listening to is a dreamy restoration of recordings from some long-forgotten Sun Records artist who never got his day in the… well, sun.
Yet, Ledger is young and his debut record, Logan Ledger, dropped on April 3rd via Electro Magnetic/Rounder Records. The record features eleven of those “dreamy restorations,” which are actually careful compositions put together by Ledger and his producer, T Bone Burnett. (You can read our review of the album here)
Ledger, a Bay Area native, has been prospecting in the music industry for several years. He’s worked at bars and venues, played in bluegrass bands and cover bands and even road-managed Ramblin’ Jack Elliott for a period of time (“that was a weird little adventure,” Ledger reflected).
However, things didn’t really take off for him until he moved to Nashville several years ago on a whim and ended up crossing paths with Burnett. While some skeptics believe that the days of artists being discovered in a fairytale-esque manner are over, Ledger’s story speaks to the contrary. He told it to American Songwriter:
“It’s a crazy story,” Ledger began. “I had this friend here in Nashville who runs a studio out of his house and one day he had gotten a microphone in the mail that he wanted to test out — some sort of cool, vintage microphone. So, he asked me to come over and I played a few original songs into the microphone, just to test it out, not to make a real demo or anything.
“Then I went home and a couple of weeks later my friend called me up and said ‘hey my friend Dennis Crouch, the bass player, came over and put some bass on those tracks and we made them into real demos.’ I listened to them and they sounded amazing. I knew Dennis Crouch as the guy who played on the T Bone Burnett records, and I had seen him play with Elvis Costello and Steve Earle, so I was like ‘wow that’s pretty cool!’
“Another week goes by and my friend calls me again and says ‘Dennis sent the demos to T Bone — T Bone wants to meet you and make a record.’ It was really crazy to me. I met Dennis for the first time, got on the phone with T Bone’s assistant and flew to Los Angeles and met T Bone. The very first time I met him he said we were going to make a record together. It was really crazy and it happened without me really doing anything, other than just being there and randomly making those recordings.”
From there, Ledger and Burnett have developed a working relationship that has merited some phenomenal American music that bends both genre and era. With his rich warm vocals and country/rockabilly sensibilities, Ledger’s sound is haunting yet warm, nostalgic yet novel. Ledger explained that the mutual understanding between him and Burnett was responsible for the perfectly exact tone of Logan Ledger.
“By the time I got into the studio I had known T Bone for about two years,” Ledger said. “As soon as we got in there we knew what we were doing, there wasn’t a lot of conceptualizing at that point, we were just playing the songs. That’s a benefit of having known T Bone for that long — if I had just hired him to help me make a record it would’ve been a very different vibe.”
But there is another, magical element to Ledger’s sound — his influences. Sharing the bulk of them with Burnett, Ledger’s vintage American influences reach into every nook and cranny of Logan Ledger.
“I’ve loved the whole Sun Records canon since I was a child,” Ledger said, “it wasn’t something I grew out of. I think it’s as simple as that. I still gravitate to the same music I did as a kid, I just really honed in on it. I definitely studied all of those people; Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, among many others. The whole Sun Records thing is really up my alley.”
However, Ledger is also very careful in avoiding the term “novelty.” While his music certainly exists in the ethos of 1960s Americana, it is also strikingly modern. In a way, Ledger is almost reminding the listener that the world of Sun Records isn’t quite history yet, but a living, breathing legacy that still impacts many facets of American popular culture.
“I’m trying to ride that line between anachronism and something that feels relevant — it’s a tricky thing,” Ledger said. “I’m not trying to recreate any sort of past that actually existed, I’m trying to reimagine it as if I were living in that time with all the information I know now. It’s ever-evolving. This is reflective of where I came from, that sort of traditionalism, but it’s also a sneak peek of what is to come.”
Watch Logan Ledger play “Starlight” off his self-titled debut record below: