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A ballsy affairLeeroy Stagger - Depression River
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: June 4, 2007
Review by Andy ArgyrakisWhile he may be a somewhat new voice in America, Leeroy Stagger has long been heralded in his home country of Canada, along with the U.K. thanks to a series of international tours. The British Columbia bred singer/songwriter may have just turned 23, but Depression River marks his fourth overall project, demonstrating an incredibly prolific streak for a guy who started taking music seriously just three years ago. On this new effort, the tunesmith is once again joined by backers The Sinking Hearts to pump out a blend of raucous rock n' roll, insurgent country, bar doused pop and boot scootin' bawdiness.
The title cut is a smoky, ballsy and almost bluesy rock affair that demonstrates Stagger's smoldering vocal swagger and his band's ability to kick up some serious booze induced dust. "Jealous and Drunk" literally addresses the bottle, talking about drowning away sorrow by pounding back some beers and playing old school records. However, the tunesmith covers more than merely alcoholism, such as pride for the Great White North throughout the Nick Cave-tipped "Saskatoon" and peace keeping throughout the rebellious, Ryan Adams-influenced "Lay Down Your Guns."
Though there's plenty of promise on Depression River, Stagger is also guilty of aping his heroes on a few occasions, most notably "Where I Live," which sounds like fellow countryman Neil Young singing a set of Bruce Springsteen lyrics. The classic rock/alternative country blend "Carol" also mimics Adams even closer without nearly as much originality as the aforementioned. Yet the disc comes around again thanks to the seven-minute epic "Tired of Being High," which merges the best of modern day alt-rock with a psychedelic jam session and a more unique, almost ominous singing style. The tune provides just enough additional intrigue to put Stagger on the fast track to Stateside success, though in order to stay there, he should stick with inventive ideas and experimentation rather than borrowing a little too liberally from other artists.
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