By Julijana Capone
WINNIPEG – Winnipeg-bred Joey Landreth (one quarter of the Bros. Landreth) is a self-described heart-on-his-sleeve singer-songwriter, spilling about love and personal tribulations with an honesty that’s effortlessly endearing.
On Whiskey, Landreth’s debut solo record, some heavier blues-rock riffage augments the album’s understated prairie twang. In fact, Landreth says that he wanted to “take a few liberties” in the guitar-playing department.
“There’s a little more of the guitar-player Joe coming out on this record,” says Landreth from Toronto, where he now calls home. “It’s still a very song-centered album, but I definitely wanted to be playing more guitar on this record, and the live show reflects that a little bit more than the record does.”
Of the album’s seven tracks, Landreth’s full-bodied vocals shine as he chronicles his path to sobriety on title track, “Whiskey,” or with road-worn ballad “Still Feel Gone,” about “the pressures and challenges that come with being a traveller” on the ones you love.
The roots artist, best known as the lead vocalist and chief songwriter for the Bros. Landreth, took home a JUNO Award in 2015 for the group’s debut effort, Let it Lie. That album also landed the four-piece a label deal with Slate Creek Records out of Nashville.
With that success came an exhaustive touring schedule and demands that were weighing heavily on the group. As Landreth explains, his solo outing is as much a creative pursuit as it is an attempt to take some of the touring pressure off of the rest of the band.
“Spending the amount of time on the road that we have, it can take its toll in certain ways,” says Landreth. “I’ve been getting that question a lot: ‘Why did you want to go solo?’ To be honest, I didn’t really, but it was kind of necessary for the greater good of the project. Not to say that I’m not having an absolute blast, because I am.”
Though the artist now lives in a different area code, his Winnipeg roots are never too far behind. The album was recorded in his hometown at the famed West End studio, Stereobus Recording, where many Manitoba luminaries have also cut records, like Burton Cummings, Crash Test Dummies, and the universally loveable Fred Penner.
Working with much of the same team as with the Bros. Landreth’s debut, the album doesn’t veer too far from earlier work. Elder Landreth brother and guitarist, David, appears on the album, as do drummer Ryan Voth, and producer Murray Pulver.
Elsewhere, Stereobus studio owner and engineer Paul Yee, who helped Landreth on his first recording when he was 14 years old, also lends his engineering talents. Indeed, this musical endeavour remained an all-Winnipeg affair.
“That’s kind of the thing about Winnipeg for me is that there’s a ton of history,” says Landreth. “It’s where I grew up, where I became a musician, and where I became a songwriter. I think that’s why it was really important for me to record there, too.”
As it stands, the younger Landreth sibling assures fans of the Bros. Landreth that his solo effort isn’t indicative of the band’s demise.
“The Bros. Landreth are alive and well,” he says. “There’s gonna be some shows coming up this year, so if anybody’s worried, don’t be worried.”
Joey Landreth performs on March 9th at the West End Cultural Centre in Winnipeg. For more information on his new solo record, Whiskey, head to joeylandreth.com.Joe Landreth, Manitoba, West End Cultural Centre, Whiskey, Winnipeg