Jerry Leger knows how to write a song, and the 11 on Nothing Pressing clearly illustrate a man with a sense of humor, a sense of taste and a sense of just how weird the last two years have been. Though recorded in three different contexts (two songs are basically four-track demos while three more were cut live in the studio with Dan Mock adding harmony vocals, while four others are full band arrangements), settings change but what doesn’t is Leger’s ability to craft songs that get to the heart of the matter.
The end of the pandemic is clearly on his mind during the opening of ‘Have You Ever Been Happy?’ Bass and drums lead things off while Leger admits that at least some of the nuttiness seems to be ending, “Break in the new world/ But let me keep my job.” Like so many of us he realises everything has changed, but it’s still nice to be able to rely on the consistency of certain things after the last two years of cocked hat craziness. Angie Hilts harmonies hit the mark as they confess, “Something made me laugh/ But the punchline was me/ Took too long to find out/ What we take seriously / And what’s a joke.”
The times changed and we were forced to look at life much differently. “Old panes/ Open windows/ The keys that we can’t find/ And I’ve got nothing pressing/ taking up my time” Leger admits against the stumming of his guitar and the unexpectedly sweet sounds of Timmons ukulele on ‘Nothing Pressing’. The pervading sense of sadness seems to overcome Leger the longer the song goes on. Nothing is what it seems, “We’ve gotten to the country/ But now I’m going out of my mind.” That endless string of days got to be quite haunting.
Amped up and rocking out, ‘Kill It with Kindness’ showcases the band in just 2:19, yet that’s all it takes to illustrate how too much time on your hands can lead to a certain kind of sickness. “I’ve seen what a mind can do/I’ve been through it before/Takes a grip of your happiness/And shoves you into the wall/I dull it down with alcohol/But then I feel more depressed/So I treat it like my worst enemy/And kill it with kindness.” Apparently Leger has been down these roads more than once. Haven’t we all?
There are points where Leger seems to don a Dylanesque persona, most clearly on ‘A Page You Turned’. The band plays in a ragged style reminiscent of The Band. He sings with a sense of defeat setting in, “Bad year, ain’t working/ Been thinking about stealing/ Sold everything that I owned/ In our broken home.” The despair in his voice, the defeat in his heart have lead him to the breaking point.
Jerry Leger knows how to recount going through the wringer. He gives us a chance to feel his pain on Nothing Pressing and make it our own. We all know it and have experienced it. The only difference is that when Leger sets it to music, unlike the album’s title, these 11 songs become very personal.