The Alex Leach Band
Esteemed singer/songwriter producer Jim Lauderdale, who has collaborated with everyone from Ralph Stanley to Roland White, produced this album. In the liner notes, Lauderdale calls Leach, a former member of Ralph Stanley II’s band, “one of the most talented musicians I’ve ever met.”
I’d be willing to take Lauderdale’s word on this, but after a careful listen to this 11-song collection, I don’t have to. Leach and his ultra-tight band have only been together for a couple of years, but they’ve managed to master and internalize the style and spirit of the bluegrass tradition (a tradition that is beautifully celebrated in a Leach-penned memoir called “The Turntable”). They seem to have particularly honed in on the Ralph Stanley/Ricky Skaggs style.
And although it almost feels like a too-lazy comparison, Leach can easily bring to mind a young Ricky Skaggs, even though his principal instruments are guitar and banjo. Leach’s wife Miranda is an integral part of the band’s vocal tapestry. She and her husband’s voices meld together with stunning hand-in-glove emotional and musical precision. You can hear this vividly on “Take Me Back.” The couple cowrote this haunting and brilliantly rendered lament about an estranged couple struggling desperately, and perhaps futilely, to reconnect across a seemingly insurmountable geographical, chronological and emotional divide.
This is just one of many songs on this finely wrought project that suggest we’ll be hearing a lot more from The Alex Leach Band in times to come.