Roman Candle Presents Jerry Leger & The Situation
Roman Candle is thrilled to welcome Jerry Leger & The Situation to The Castle Hotel, Manchester on Sunday 26th May. Special guest Toria Wooff.
Tickets £12 advance from See Tickets.
JERRY LEGER & THE SITUATION
As Toronto’s music scene has grown in stature on the world stage, singer/songwriter Jerry Leger has been making his own significant contributions. A favourite of Uncut Magazine and Rolling Stone Germany, Leger has also earned the praise of fellow artists Ron Sexsmith (“he’s the real deal”) and Doug Paisley, while maintaining a long relationship with Cowboy Junkies as part of their Latent Recordings roster, with their songwriter/guitarist Michael Timmins serving as producer.
On his new album Donlands, Leger has taken a different approach, teaming up with legendary Canadian producer/engineer Mark Howard (Lucinda Williams, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Neil Young), whose trademark atmospheric sound adds an entirely new dimension to Leger’s approach. Named after the street in Toronto’s east end where it was recorded, in what once was the Donlands Theatre, Donlands presents Jerry Leger as he’s never been heard before.
“Not a lot of people make records like Mark Howard anymore,” Leger says. “After I got to tell him how much Tom Waits’s Real Gone meant to me, I fell right into the experience. Like all my albums, we recorded Donlands mostly live in the studio with my band The Situation [Dan Mock, Kyle Sullivan, Alan Zemaitis] in a circle—no headphones, just listening and existing, breathing as a whole. To me, it’s a record that lives in its own world. Since I was a little kid, I’ve loved how recordings like The Flamingos’ ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’ and ‘Pledging My Love’ by Johnny Ace sound so haunting. I knew Mark could get us that, with the right choice of material.”
Leger began by sending Howard 20 demos, and was pleasantly surprised when they basically agreed on which 10 should comprise the record. From there, he describes the process as treating each song like a blank canvas, building up arrangements with the help of engineer Aaron Goldstein, who also added pedal steel and guitar to several tracks. But overall, Leger says it all came down to the atmosphere Howard created. He says the experience felt almost like creating a film noir soundtrack, with something unknown always lurking in the shadows.
That certainly comes across on songs like “I Was Right To Doubt Her,” with its spooky organ and Spanish-style percussion recalling Howard’s work on Willie Nelson’s Teatro. But mostly, Leger wears his poetic heart firmly on his sleeve on “Three Hours Ahead Of Midnight” and “The Flower And The Dirt,” songs that underscore Leger’s uncommon ability to pen timeless music and lyrics. Further, as on the Roy Orbison-esque opening track “Sort Me Out,” and the heart-wrenching piano ballad “Wounded Wing,” Leger digs deep to express the strength and resolve we’ve all needed to get through the past few years. He says, “This record is a place I’ve known about and where I’ve always wanted to live, so it was a nice and rewarding visit. It’s another piece of me that floats in a dream. It’s surreal at times, just like writing can be surreal.”
Donlands comes to an appropriate close with “Slow Night In Nowhere Town,” in which the movie ends and we walk out of the theatre into a steady downpour, unsure of whether to go home or just keep moving. For Jerry Leger, the search for the elusive creative spark remains never-ending, but there are always new routes to explore in getting to it. With Donlands, he has made an album that stands as one of the peak moments in an already towering body of work.
Awash in a haze of burnt orange and golden browns, Toria Wooff’s world is a colourful palette of opposing plains. A painter, poet, songwriter and storyteller, her songs are steeped in gothic romanticism, pagan and Germanic tradition, enchanted by an alchemy of ‘70s sound and vision where she magically blends the raw power of Led Zeppelin with Alice Cooper’s raven hues to forge her own spellbinding folk-rock concoction.
In an age when punk politics’ grey skies can overwhelm, Toria Wooff’s own darkness offers unexpected solace and leaves an equally poignant mark. Fuelled by the thunder of individual spirit and a beating wild heart, her debut EP Badlands shone a light through sorrow’s cracks whilst extending a withered autumnal branch between stormy skies and solstice aligning her with Mother Nature’s tour de force. “I’m proud to be a young woman who sings and writes songs, and don’t apologise for being drawn to the gloomier things in life,” she says.
With the sonic rabbit hole well and truly open, Toria encountered Joan Baez, Crosby Stills and Nash, Pink Floyd, and Townes Van Zandt. Her roots entwined to the windswept valleys of Lancashire, the rural setting provided a fitting backdrop to the music as she began to sense a connection with the Celtic and Gaelic folklore of her mother’s Scottish heritage. Making past times strangely present with pagan-like spirituality, Toria’s melancholic bite lies between the pages of gothic literature and historical texts.