There are songwriters who find a creative niche and never stray from it. Then there are songwriters who choose to continually break down what they are known for and start again from the ground up. Leeroy Stagger is the latter. Capturing a more mature sound than earlier recordings, his 4th studio album, Everything Is Real, presents Stagger at a new beginning. “I don’t want to make records that sound like the ones I’ve already made,” he explains from his home in Lethbridge, Alberta, “This time I wanted to make a classic sounding record like the ones I grew up listening to.” Stagger’s hope has been realized with songs like the Springsteen-esque “Petrified World”, the title track’s homage to ’70s New York punk and the nod to Little Feat with the song “Stormy”.
Inspired by recordings of the ’70s, Stagger wanted to evoke the feeling every kid got when putting a new rock and roll record on their parents’ stereo. The result is an album that straddles the lines between the rock side of Ryan Adams, the gravel-fueled poetry of Lucinda Williams, and the muscle of early Tom Petty. Everything Is Real is a gritty, honest collection of songs that aren’t afraid to rock, sway, or break a few hearts.
Stagger’s past is rich in success including featured placements on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and tours taking him to Europe and across North America. With such accomplishments, it’s strange to think his new album was in danger of never being completed. After a steering himself away from a personal storm in 2008, the now-sober Stagger returned to finish writing Everything Is Real and enlisted producer John Ellis, with whom he collaborated on his previous album, the critically-acclaimedDepression River. A cache of varied and purer songs in hand, Stagger brought in a versatile band including drummer Pat Steward (Bryan Adams, Odds), bassist Tyson Maiko, and guitarist Kevin Kane (The Grapes of Wrath), to translate his vision. They holed up in Ellis’ studio in the small town of Ashcroft, BC and invited a wealth of musical guests: Bobby Furgo (Leonard Cohen Band), Tim Easton (New West Records), Evan Phillips (The Whipsaws), Steve Bays (Hot Hot Heat), Neal Casal (Ryan Adams and the Cardinals), as well as Scottish songster Roddy Hart. The result is Stagger’s most realized album to date. With the classic-sounding “Snowing in Nashville” and wonderfully evocative “Red Bandana”, Everything Is Real is a beautiful documentation of the young troubadour finding his voice and putting himself back on track as one of the most promising new Canadian artists to join the ranks of Blue Rodeo and Kathleen Edwards. With a brand new band, a brand new record and a brand new outlook on life, Stagger is aiming for that mark.
Leeroy Stagger is also a member of the folk trio Easton, Stagger, Phillips with acclaimed American songwriters Tim Easton and Evan Phillips.