Leeroy Stagger’s new album Dream It All Away is described as a personal road trip.
The singer/songwriter has dug deep into his own troubled childhood for some of the inspiration, and hopes his “honest” tunes are meaningful to listeners who are also seeking their own happiness and resolution.
Some might disparage these songs as “diary rock,” but Stagger said he’s just writing about what he knows.
“This is my tenth record and I feel I don’t have to hide behind anything. I think I should be able to express myself fully and completely,” said the musician, who performs on Wednesday, May 27, at Fratters Speakeasy in Red Deer.
The tunes on Dream It All Away were mostly written after Stagger became a father. Raising his now two-year-old boy “unexpectedly dredged up childhood s— that I hadn’t dealt with,” he added.
Looking at his son, he believes, was in some ways like looking into a mirror.
Stagger was mostly raised by his father and grandmother in Victoria, B.C. Although he has a good relationship with his mother now, she was out of the picture for most of the first 10 years of his life for reasons he doesn’t want to detail. Suffice to say he’s had to come to terms with abandonment issues. “And there was some abuse and stuff like that, that was pushed back and came to the surface.”
Stagger went to counselling to help him fully engage as a father. He believes writing personal songs for this album also helped — although the real test will be in performing them in front of an audience, night after night.
While the lyrics of songs such as Ten Long Years and Angry Young Man are more poetically oblique than transparent, the singer/guitarist hopes “some people will see themselves in the songs and be able to relate … that’s the goal, anyway.”
Stagger’s album, produced in Calgary by Russell Broom (Sam Roberts, Julian Lennon), is racking up good reviews. And the first single, Something Beautiful is getting played by radio stations that hadn’t previously touched his music. “Getting played on modern rock radio is new for me.”
Stagger finds parenthood to be a fun but stressful challenge. “My son is pretty adventurous and likes to push my buttons. He tests the limits of my patience … and I’m not a patient person — you can ask my manager,” he added, with a chuckle.
Stagger moved to his wife’s hometown of Lethbridge about nine years ago and is happy to be close to supportive, babysitting in-laws. “We first moved here thinking we could save some money and own our own home, but I’ve come to really like it here. This is a great city.”
He’s also heartened by recent political changes in Alberta, with the election of the New Democrat government.
“If you can bring a bit of humanity back to politics, I think it’s a good thing.”
Tickets for his 8:30 p.m. show with special guest Mariel Buckley are $10 from the venue.
For more information, call 403-356-0033.