Leeroy Stagger Truth Be Sold

Leeroy StaggerTruth Be Sold
Rust and Leeroy Stagger never sleep, it seems. Just a year after the release of the superb Radiant Land, the prolific troubadour returns with another fine collection, his eighth studio album. Stagger and his rhythm section recorded this in Portland, OR, with Los Lobos's Steve Berlin as producer. He contributed sax and keyboards, which add muscle to the sound, and helped the band add subtly adventurous touches, as on the widescreen sonics of "The Other Half." Stagger's punk rock roots surface here, especially on the hard-hitting first half of the album and tracks like "Goodnight Berlin" and "Cities on Fire." That latter tune is a fiery album highlight, inspired by the Occupy movement and infused with a righteously political passion all too often lacking these days. The acknowledged influence of Steve Earle is clearly in play on Truth Be Sold, both sonically and in the blue-collar lyrical approach of a tune like "Mister." Stagger isn't afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve either, as heard on the pedal-steel-inflected "Break My Heart" and tender album closer "Jackie." Truth Be Sold doesn't quite possess the sustained brilliance of Radiant Land, but it's still a fine addition to the impressive body of work of a troubadour worthy of far greater recognition on his home turf. (Independent)