Second half of double album project from Leahey and his band with eclectic influences and fine vocals.
Nashville based Andrew Leahey boasts a back story spanning more genres than most artists, and this shines through on ‘American Static Vol 2′, the second part of the double album project, following the release of ‘Vol 1’ in October 2021. Raised in Virginia and originally trained as a classical vocalist, he sang with the Juilliard Choral Union in venues including the Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, but his love of rock and roll from high school band days won out, Leahey recalling “When you’re a classical singer, you’re executing someone else’s music with precision, and you perform the same song the same way every time. Rock & roll is more adaptive than that. It allows you to be flexible: to react to the crowd, to the unique acoustics of the room, to the context of the world on any given night. To me, classical music felt like a monologue, but rock & roll was more like a conversation. And why would I want to talk at people when I could talk with them instead?”
His Americana credentials include his role as lead guitarist for Elizabeth Cook, and there are echoes of classic tracks from the Byrds jangly guitars to Tom Petty in his latest release, though our reviewer for ‘Vol 1’ did pose the eternal question “is this Americana”? The broad church of Americana is stretched here towards the rock end of the spectrum, and ‘American Static Vol 2’ delivers in this regard. During lockdown Leahey and his band set up a weekly livestream which eventually ran to 55 shows, and as well as debuting the 18 all original songs written by him on the the combined release, 9 in each volume, they covered no fewer than 400 songs by other artists, ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Benny Goodman. So it’s no surprise to hear many and varied influences in the latest release.
Up tempo opener ‘Caught Like a Fire’ has echoes of Steve Nieves keys for Elvis Costello, and some of Costello’s swagger too, while ‘Hot House’ features a prominent guitar riff, hints of Talking Heads in the key part, fine harmony vocals, and a soaring bridge. Several tracks are reminiscent of 10cc, notably ‘Sign of the Times’, with it’s frequent changes of pulse and tempo. Uniting the varied influences are Leahey’s fine and distinctive vocals, and well crafted lyrics, on ‘Until There’s Nothing But Air’ he sings the memorable line “I heard your cigarette heart could leave a mark on a room filling every last part with a memory of you”, while ‘Stay Awake’ features the refrain “If you wanna live the American Dream you gotta stay awake”, as he rails against the relentless time pressure of modern life.
Leahey plays guitars and keys throughout, with support from band members Jay Dmuchowski and Dan Holmes, and production is credited to Jon Estes, well known for his work with John Paul White. A fine set of songs with melodic rock leanings.