This album was recorded during a time of inner difficulty. I finally had signed a record contract after years of being turned down and putting out the albums myself. I was very deep in debt so it was great to finally have some support. What better person to work with than Michael Timmins of Cowboy Junkies. They built their whole career on not following trends, not doing what somebody else told them to do. I have a lot of respect for Mike and his songwriting. He also has a great work ethic which he recognized in me too. I knew that I was still gonna be able to make the records I wanted to make and he was just gonna add to that. The producers that I love are the ones that are not there to make it their album but instead make sure they get what you are down on tape, the best they can. They only added and suggested when it made sense. That’s why Tim Bovaconti is an amazing person to work with as well.
The week we spent recording ‘Early Riser’ was a weird one. I was fighting a nasty cold, my Grandmother passed away and I was also in the middle of realizing that I had some people around who were not looking out for me. I needed to cut them out, which I eventually did. We recorded it pretty much live off the floor in a week like always but Mike spent a long time mixing it, which he did beautifully. It made the album sound huge, giving songs like “Factory Made” that otherworldly sound it needed. “Nobody’s Angel” is probably my favourite recording of mine, it’s delicate and vunerable. I remember writing the words on the subway heading home one day, setting it to an old Hank Williams tune and then changing it completely. Some of the songs were written on piano while I was house-sitting for bass player, Dan Mock. “One More Bad Penny” is a personal favourite, with it’s nod to George Jones in the bridge.
It’s a beautifully sounding record made at Cowboy Junkies studio with a trio of female singers (Tamara Lindeman, Carleigh Aikins, Ivy Mairi) which really set this album apart (haunting in “Bad Ole Dog” as just one example), horn player Darcy Hepner (who also played with Aretha Franklin) adding Stax-like textures, Aaron Comeau on piano (who recorded a touching instrumental version of the title track), Jeff Heisholt on organ and of course my band The Situation, who played beautifully. Kyle Sullivan’s drumming is signature, Dan’s playing is focused and creative, James McKie sounds supernatural at times.
It was released with album artwork & design by Daniel Romano and acclaimed by many including PopMatters and Globe & Mail.
‘Early Riser’ is currently available on CD (out of print on vinyl sadly) and as a download on Bandcamp, which will be waiving their share of revenue June 5th. Consider buying it on that day if you don’t have it already. Stream and listen now: https://jerryleger.bandcamp.com/album/early-riser
Source: Jerry Leger