Logan Ledger Offers Solace to the Solitary
Country artist Logan Ledger's low vocal tones reinforce the experience of feeling alone in the world. His songs are often melodramatic and sentimental, full of yearning for something just out of reach.
Electro Magnetic / Rounder
3 April 2020
Slow, quiet, and deep are three words that are not normally used to describe contemporary country music. However, they are apt descriptors for Logan Ledger's eponymous debut full-length release. Ledger's low baritone voice oozes over the material. The songs themselves generally move at a languid pace. His vocals recall the sound of classic Roy Orbison ballads or George Jones weepers. But Ledge is more indolent than indulgent. His songs are often melodramatic and sentimental, full of yearning for something just out of reach. Nothing really happens in the outer world, but his inner life overflows with emotion. He's the kind of guy who looks out the window on a sunny day and sees rain.
The album was produced in Nashville by T-Bone Burnett, who reportedly put off retiring to work on this record. Burnett also plays guitar on more than half of the 11 tracks. He employed the same crew who played on Robert Plant / Alison Krauss' Grammy-winning Raising Sand, which Burnett also produced: guitarist Marc Ribot, drummer Jay Bellerose, and bassist Dennis Crouch, with the addition of guitarist/pedal steel player Russell Pahl.
Burnett uses lots of echo and reverb to create a mysterious sonic world where both ghosts and children play. That fits songs full of lines such as "I've got the memories", "when my life is over", and "nobody knows where the time has flown." The lyrics suggest that looking to one's past may be a viable way to living in the present, which seems fitting in today's insular COVID-19 world. That was not intentional as the disc was recorded before the current pandemic.
Ledger wrote or co-wrote most of the songs, including one each with Steve Earle ("The Lights of San Francisco") and John Paul White ("Tell Me a Lie"). He covers a single T-Bone Burnett track ("I'm Gonna Get Over This Some Day") and Henson Cargill's 1968 ode to how kids learn to hate, "Skip a Rope". The Burnett and Cargill tracks may be the most upbeat ones on the record even though they are essentially negative in content. Burnett's song has a Buddy Holly-eque beat (think "It Doesn't Matter Anymore") and functions in much the same way as that tune. The narrator is facing unpleasantness by putting it behind him. Similarly, Logan's Cargill cover employs the image of children at play to reveal the despicable world of adults.
There's a thematic unity to the material even while the songs may superficially seem different. One original cut may be a call to a fantasy creature ("Let the Mermaids Flirt with Me") while another is about flesh and blood desire ("Electric Fantasy"), and a third concerns depression ("Invisible Blue"). Still, they all express a sense of isolation and a way of dealing with it in the imagination. Ledger's low vocal tones reinforce the experience of feeling alone in the world.
The album Logan Ledger offers solace to the solitary by demonstrating we are not by ourselves in our loneliness. This may be a lousy soundtrack for a party unless one is dancing by oneself. Sigh, but we all seem to be doing that these days.