From a purely chronological standpoint, Leland Sundriesthe musical project led by Brooklyn troubadour Nick Loss-Eatonis relatively young. But lend an ear to The Apothecary EP, or check out Leland Sundries live show, and it is quickly apparent that this music is imbued with qualities that belie its tender years. Loss-Eatons plainspoken baritone has a weathered, lived-in quality. The Band meets Lou Reed, is how Boston Phoenix summed up their sound. His lyrics reflect a keen sensitivity for details and characters that less-seasoned souls might overlook. Leland Sundries take on Americana sits comfortably alongside contemporaries like Elvis Perkins, Jay Farrar, and A.A. Bondy, yet is informed by decades of history, too.
For starters, theres that curious moniker. It emerged during a road trip through the Deep South, when Loss-Eaton made a pilgrimage to Leland, Mississippi, the small town where bluesman Eddie Cusic resides. The octogenarian guitarist, whod played with numerous R&B stars of his era (most notably Little Milton), was happy to spend the afternoon telling stories and playing music for an enraptured Loss-Eaton and his traveling companions. Having already seen the somewhat antiquated term sundries on multiple signs in that pocket of the country, Loss-Eaton fused it with Cusics hometown, as an homage to what the elder statesman and his lifes work embodied.
Loss-Eaton was also fortunate to work for a brief time at Smithsonian Folkways, the historic record label that has stewarded the legacies of Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Alan Lomax, and Harry Smiths Anthology of American Folk Music. Working at Folkways was hugely inspiring, he admits. Already a serious admirer of gateway artists like Bob Dylan, Dave Van Ronk and Ramblin Jack Elliott, blues greats such as Charley Patton and Son House, and the rockabilly canon of Sun Records, he traveled further down myriad tributaries of American roots music during his Folkways tenure. I immersed myself in that music, learning about Bill Monroe, the Stanley Brothers, Dock Boggs, and Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry.
He nurtured a love for the mythology surrounding various icons, and developed an appreciation for how the timbre of a banjo or resonator guitar can call up images from the Dust Bowl and other bygone eras. He found the words and language of these performances equally compelling. The lyrics of those traditional and pre-WWII songs are often strange and beautiful, and it felt like listening into something familiar, yet from another world.
In addition to Loss-Eatons voice, one of the most distinctive qualities of Leland Sundries sound is use of harmonica. When he first began cutting his teeth, Loss-Eaton tried writing songs on the piano, but it never felt like a natural instrument to me. Back then, his guitar skills were rudimentaryas you can hear, theyve improved considerablyyet the harmonica seemed to come more naturally, unlocking his compositional gifts. I wanted the harmonica to be a big part of the sound, but its also a stylistic choice, he concedes. It is a really expressive instrument, almost like another voice.
Like many great folk songs and traditional tunes, there is an immediacy to the melodies and chord progressions of Leland Sundries music that easily ensnares the listener. Those hooks encourage repeated spins and, subsequently, closer inspection. Time Out New York has favorably described Leland Sundries as oddball storytelling with a lo-fi country sensibility, but the musics charms run deeper. Hey Self Defeater, with its quiet urgency reminiscent of Dave Alvins 4th of July, and the crunchy High on the Plains, boast compelling choruses, a sense that these songs simply demanded to be written. Yet their lyrics, rife with images of bowling shoes, cinderblock villages, and oddball tourist attractions, elevate the everyday beyond the ordinary.
Source: Artist Facebook Page