Gareth Leach - 'Trigger' Album Review
1. Oh My Devil
2. Old Crow Feather
3. Fire In The Hole
5. My Crime
7. Down The Rabbit Hole
8. Singin’ Hymns
9. Never Been One
10. Black Swamp
Gareth Leach crossed my path with his excellent last album ‘Death & Taxes’ which showcased a singer/ songwriter whose music flowed from his heart and soul. With two prior releases to his credit, he has continued his development as an artist by giving us ten new songs here. He blends many influences together which highlight how well artists from Australia perform Americana and Country & Western. It’s a shame that Nashville cannot take some cues from what is happening in other parts of the world and the independent releases here in the States. Starting on a journey through ‘Trigger’ is a great way to spend your time, and you will find yourself doing it quite often.
Launching the album with ‘Oh My Devil’ works extremely well as Leach starts the album with an extremely catchy chorus that kickstarts this Western ride. At times, it reminds me a bit of Charlie Daniels, which I think is in part due to the fiddle work by Hamish Davidson. It really leads the song musically, and you will be singing the chorus in no time. I mentioned blending influences earlier, and that is really what comes into play on ‘Old Crow Feather.’ For those of us old enough to remember Jon Bon Jovi’s soundtrack to ‘Young Guns II,’ this one will make an immediate impact. It is the feel of the music that is similar though as Leach sings with more grit and grime. He sings like he just walked in from the desert after everyone left him for dead. There is a defiance here that jumps out of the speakers. Not to be outdone, the next song seamlessly taps into a bit of Hank III ‘Straight to Hell’ era with the excellent ‘Fire in the Hole’ being one of really 10 highlights on the album. This one should also appeal to fans of Tyler Childers.
Starting the middle section of the album, Leach moves from strength to strength with the catchy ‘Honey.’ This one has hit very close to home for me and has become a favorite among favorites. Musically, the song feels heavy even though it has an acoustic base. Leach sings with an intensity that I can cathartically feel in my bones while the fiddle and electric guitar provide more musical impact even though the guitar solo at the end is done acoustically. ‘My Crime’ provides us with an awesome duet between Leach and Michaela Jenke. Don’t mistake duet as a ballad here. This one reminds me a bit of Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson from their ‘Rattlin’ Bones’ album. The song continues to build as it goes with these two excellent artists showcasing some great musical chemistry.
Current single and title track ‘Trigger’ kicks off the second half of the album feeling like a song you could sing around a campfire. Namechecking Waylon and Willie in the song is a nice touch as this song could be from either of them musically. The vocal intensity of ‘Honey’ is flipped on its head here with Leach singing with a very inviting tone that makes you want to raise your glass and sing along with him. ‘Down The Rabbit Hole’ ratchets back up the intensity and really highlights something that I love about Leach. There is not a moment on this album where he is not bleeding from his heart and soul in his songs. The genuineness he exudes in his singing and lyrics stands out in every song. His vocals are placed a little deeper in the mix here as the fiddle and other instruments get equal footing. It feels very live and in your face.
‘Singin’ Hymns’ comes up next with the showcase here at the beginning Leach’s vocals over solitary picked strings. This song also has a slow build that gets the foot tapping and the head moving. I am not going to give away anything about the lyrics here, but it’s a very dark song that is simply awesome. Leach goes full Country and Western on ‘Never Been One.’ I firmly believe Leach would do very well here in Texas performing with the Red Dirt bands as this song would be the slow song that everyone is singing along to with their arms wrapped around each other (pre or post Covid naturally). I don’t think it is a coincidence that there is a lyric here that includes ‘walk the line’ as Johnny Cash could have sang this one too. Closing out the album is the bluesy intense slow rocker ‘Black Swamp’ where Leach demonstrates another side to his music and vocals. The musical outro wraps up the album perfectly.
‘Trigger’ should be on your list of albums to help get you through 2020 and 2021. One of his greatest strengths could have been a detriment in the past, which is he doesn’t fit nicely into any one genre. He packs the intensity of Rock into Country while also channeling from Blues, Folk, and Americana. I would hope that this makes it easier for this album to get played in more places these days than it would have 30-40 years ago. I am not sure where this one will be on my list of top albums of the year but know it will be there. My biggest issue in writing the review is I would stop writing so I could just stop and enjoy the songs all over again.
‘Trigger’ is available now.
Website - https://www.garethleach.com/home
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/garethleachmusic
Review - Gerald Stansbury