Songs appear out of thin air, seemingly from nowhere but actually from all around us. The greatest of these seem to have always been there, carrying in them something true and universal that connects at a depth beyond language. Songwriters accomplish a strange magic in pulling them from the ether. By doing so, they give voice to their feelings and experiences, and in turn, ours too. Their songs tell our story and provide the soundtrack to our lives. George Leach is one of these magicians. His dedication to songcraft is evident throughout his career, and nowhere more so than on his latest collection of songs, Surrender, out now.
George’s new album is the result of years of living, learning, trial, error, falling and getting up, winning and losing, breaking up, making up, and writing through it all. The album’s 11 tracks offer ample proof that the time was well spent. Far from a victim of the dreaded ‘sophomore slump’, George has instead delivered a masterful artistic statement of purpose. The opening track, You Got It, serves as both a link to George’s blues roots, and a departure, with a funkier groove and a grittier vocal delivery. From there, the real adventure begins, with pleasant surprises aplenty – the confident modern rock groove and keening vocal hooks of the first single, Carry Me; the vulnerability and intimacy of the soulful title track and the song that closes the album, Try; the hard rock swagger of They; and the album’s centerpiece, the majestic Zep/Floyd influenced Magdalene.
Where his debut album, Just Where I’m At, centred on a young man’s precocious command of the blues, Surrender covers a broader, vaster terrain – touches of classic rock, soul balladry, R&B, and funk, all in the service of a restless musical explorer chasing his muse, in the process maturing into his own as a singer and songwriter. The music evokes the home territory of the Sta’atl’imx – massive riffs like the ranges of the interior, cascades of blue notes glistening in the air like the falling spring water of a mountain stream, the vocal melodies soaring over top like an eagle in flight, all in George’s unmistakable voice. It’s a record that ranks among the finest you will encounter, this year or any other.
Now it’s time to hit the road again, to take the music to the people. Select live appearances in 2012 gave lucky fans a taste of the new album, and shows are planned throughout 2013. The energy level of a George Leach show can be described as ‘high’, to put it mildly. As the first notes issue forth from George’s doubleneck Gibson, the air in the room changes. The audience falls silent. Bodies begin to move in time to the rhythms – swaying to the ballads, grinding to the funky blues workouts, hips shaking to the rockers. Whether leading the charge of his crack band of musical ninjas or appearing solo, accompanying himself on one of his arsenal of electric and acoustic guitars, George disappears into the moment. Free to explore the nuances of the songs, chasing the promise of fleeting transcendence that music offers and taking us all with him, George Leach in concert is an experience you don’t wanna miss. Here George loses himself, finding his purest form of expression at the same time. Audiences across Canada are raving. Attend a show, or pick up the album, and find out why.