Premier League southern rock shining a light on modern America.
Leroy From The North is the brainchild of Eli Wulfmeier, singer and guitarist, who wrote all the songs on the record. Originally from Michigan, he moved to California in his twenties and played in the hard rock band Dorothy. He has since toured with Sam Morrow and Shelby Lynne and has played guitar for country singer Nikki Lane.
Throughout his time with other bands, he has written his own songs and formed the three-piece Leroy From The North to perform and record them, with Jason Ganberg on drums and Adam Arcos on bass. They put out an EP ‘Health and Fitness’ in 2019 and have supported acts such as country band Midland and alt-rockers Our Lady Peace on tour.
The music is southern rock but with a variety of styles, from hard rock to country rock to southern fried funk through to slower songs with a loping groove. As you would perhaps expect, Wulfmeier’s experience of playing guitar in various bands has led him to the point where he is playing beautifully, with great riffs, licks and fill-ins. The no-frills production of the record by Eric Corne is spot on with Wulfmeier’s guitar sounding sweet and harmonies added skillfully to make a wonderful sound. The melodies are good with strong choruses.
The lyrics deal engagingly with either personal relations or slices of contemporary life in the US and steer away from macho tales of life on the road which can blight some southern rock. The opener ‘Youngblood’ is a raw personal tale of anger and turmoil after a break-up: “I fell for her pride now, I’m bleeding inside/ Well, I gave her my heart, and she got in my head”. ‘Push’ too deals with the personal, in this case a troubled woman friend or partner: “The scar on her face but she don’t like to talk about it”. ‘Hard To Last’ is a song of regret about a finished affair: “Had I known how this would be/ I’m sure I’d never have asked you for anything”
Other songs are more concerned with social issues where Wulfmeier paints vivid but dark pictures of twenty-first century life in America. ‘Homemade Crosses’ tells of the grief at the funeral of a young man sent off to fight in Kandahar while ‘White Nights’ concerns a town decaying: “There’s paper, trash cans left and needles in the grass/ The writing’s on the wall”. ‘Laid Off’ details the despair of losing a job and ‘Pawn Shop’ describes a woman living on the street near the entrance to the shop.
However, there is a lighter side to the group shown by ‘Toughen Up’, a tale of drinking in a basement as a hurricane passes over, and in the swinging country rock ‘Top Ten’ Wulfmeier takes aim at some of the bland music of today, “those endless tired rhymes“, and the music industry.
The strength of this album both musically and lyrically makes it one of the best albums of the year so far and one which would be greatly enjoyed by fans of country rock or southern rock. This is an excellent debut, with music to gladden your heart allied to interesting lyrics, it puts a spring in your step.