February 17th, 2020 12am Stage 1
Celebrating Rockwood Music Hall’s 15-Year Anniversary!
From a purely chronological standpoint, Leland Sundries—the musical project led by Brooklyn troubadour Nick Loss-Eaton—is 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-Eaton’s 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.
In addition to Loss-Eaton’s 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 rudimentary—as you can hear, they’ve improved considerably—yet the harmonica seemed to come more naturally, unlocking his compositional gifts. “I wanted the harmonica to be a big part of the sound, but it’s 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 music’s charms run deeper. “Hey Self Defeater,” with its quiet urgency reminiscent of Dave Alvin’s “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.