Jerry Leger Premieres Rotoscope “Read Between the Lines” Video, Talks New Album, Ghosts, and Betty Boop
by Tina Benitez-Eves
Some past spirits got a hold of Jerry Leger. In a rush of fascination, the Toronto-based singer was on a mission to explore old Canadian ghost towns. Inspired by the writings of historian Ron Brown one old copper mining town, Burchell Lake, in Ontario’s Thunder Bay District, was always immortalized in Leger’s head, who allowed these “ghosts” to guide him through ninth studio album Time Out For Tomorrow.
Part introspective, part retrospective, Leger’s lyrical dive into Time move through the transience of life and love, inspired by some ghosts of the past, particularly early inspirations like Roy Orbison, Lou Reed, Gene Clark.
“Sometimes it does feel like there’s a supernatural energy when writing or playing music,” Leger tells American Songwriter. “I’m a contemporary artist but the past is important to me, and it’s important in my writing and the direction I like to take musically, just like some of my favorite songwriters like Tom Waits and Dylan who gravitated towards music and writers who lived in previous generations. I also grew up in a haunted house, maybe that has something to do with it.”
Even the album’s title was a blast from the past, a take on some 1960s dime store science fiction stories given to Leger by a friend. “Everything around me seems like science fiction these days,” says Leger. “The phrase ‘Time Out For Tomorrow’ fit these songs and my mood in one way or another.”
Returning to the studio with Cowboy Junkies’ Michael Timmins, who also produced Leger’s breakout release, 2014’ Early Riser and double album Nonsense and Heartache (2017), the duo reunited for Time Out for Tomorrow, also the debut release off the Junkies’ newly formed Latent Recordings. “It’s great working with Mike,” says Leger. “We both write and make records for ourselves and not according to trends or what someone else expects of us. That’s why it works so well and we’ve basically made four albums together that are all naturally different from each other.”
Leger, who debuted with 2005’s Jerry Leger & the Situation (2005) at the age of 19, has steadily arrived at Time Out for Tomorrow. Etched through lush lyrics and unwavering guitar, all moves fluidly through Time. Opener “Canvas of Gold,” is a pure Americana tale of the realities of the working and traveling writer. “Some things that haven’t changed since Woody Guthrie in beauty and also in struggle,” says Leger. After “Canvas,” Leger, perhaps left in a ghost-derived stupor, admits he doesn’t remember writing tracks “Survived Like a Stone, “Corner Light,” or “That Ain’t Here,” while slower driven “Justine,” Leger says, directly benefitted from the ease and lyrical prowess of Lou Reed’s Coney Island Baby, one of the first albums—along with Nick Lowe’s The Impossible Bird (1994).